Rowden Revisited - Part 2 of the Ash interview
By Mark H
December 22 2005
Part two of our interview with Ashley Rowden. I must admit, one of the questions that I didn’t get a chance to ask on the day, but did four days later, was the one raised about Andy Goode’s (missed) conversion at Welford Road earlier in the season.
The question someone raised was would he have gone to the television official? Well, Ash assures me that he would have done, making the most of the technology available, because there was doubt over whether it went through. Now onto the questions I did remember!
Who do you think you've carded the most in Premiership games?
I would probably say...I wouldn't have a clue, wouldn't have a clue.
If I said Martin Corry...
(Bursts into fits of laughter)
And Adam Balding, with three each...
Seriously? Well that's not too bad in over a hundred odd matches, is it? I can remember two of Martin's, I can't remember the third. One of them was at home, one was away at Wasps in a memorable game, can't remember the third one. The funny thing is that I really like both of them, their attitude to the game and how they interact with me, so just proves the point that even though I’m friendly with players, if they’ve got to go, they go!
One of the interesting things on your stats is that there are a lot of weeks where you've not carded anybody, and then there's something like the Saracens-Leeds game...
Four in twenty minutes...
Yeah, I think some days...you know, we're human, we're not robots, and some days you go out and think "Right, I'm not in the mood to be...mucked around" - substitution of word there - and you want to make a statement. I think we referee differently on television, without a shadow of a doubt, and sometimes that's good and sometimes that's bad. The game was on TV, I suppose I wanted to make a statement that we were going to have a game of rugby today guys, it's New Year's Day, let's not have a...you know, let's not kill it. There's people sat at home, on a break, relaxing and enjoying themselves, they don't want to see eighty minutes of dirge, and the way you set your stall out, you say we're not going to have that today.
Is it harder to referee a TV game?
Oh without a doubt, without a doubt. For me, if I never referee on TV again I'd be quite happy, I'll leave that to the youngsters and full timers, because I like to referee by first name terms, and I can't do that on TV. Well, I can, but my bosses get very, very upset! You can't have me saying JW roll away, Cozza don't do that, Lol stay onside, Johnno you're in the bin. You know...
One thing I noticed last night watching Rob Debney's performance (at Bath-Leeds), he never stopped talking...
Yeah, makes me seem a bit like a deaf mute at times, doesn't it? Not knocking Rob, because he's learning his trade, but you get a bit of white noise - if you talk too much, the players don't listen. Sometimes it's best to say little is best, and he's still learning, he's on TV, and he's hyper a bit, you know, it's a natural thing. What he didn't do, he didn't call anybody on first name terms, did he?
But he did call "ruck" a hell of a lot. My ear is still suffering this morning.
You've carded more
Now there's a surprise!
Are you the only referee that stands up to them, given the fact that you've also awarded a penalty try against them at
And it cost them the match as well! No, of course I'm not the only referee that stands up to them, but they are...when I first went there, it too me three, four years to get used to refereeing them. They are very good at what they do, they are the arch exponents of pushing the law to the limit of the letter, and the referee. At
(Just over four and a half hours later Moody was red carded atTwickenham.)
It's difficult to say this without [me] having pride in it, but to card Johnno and Backy...
...within twenty five minutes of their last
What were you thinking?
When I went into that game I was thinking, it was a game that
On a day like today when the weather's a bit inclement (it was freezing stood outside doing the interview), pitch might be a little bit hard, do you have different boots for the circumstances, or is it just a case for the referees of "here we are, here's my boots, we're getting on with it"?
For a long time we've been supplied with boots, and being a tight-fisted git with no job, I tend to wear the boots that I'm given because I won't spend any money, but now we've got some, we've been given some new Asics which are very very nice. You'll see most of the referees wearing them, and they're like wearing slippers, and they're like wearing blades. Very comfortable, but I don't really look at the weather conditions as such, in terms of what my footwear would be.
What's been your busiest week?
Probably this week! It's no secret that the powers that be use me as much as they can, I need the money - I think that secretly deep down they'd have liked to have made me a full timer, but they can't for obvious reasons, because of my age and the IRB thing, so they give me any game...I'll do any game going. I've done a National 1 on a Saturday, driven to Heathrow, to fly to
Reserve at both...
I was the reserve at both, wasn't I? I stayed Friday night in Manchester for Sale and Leeds on the Saturday, stayed in Harrogate on the Saturday night, went and did Newcastle and Pertemps Bees, mucked up a replacement that no-one noticed, apart from BBC because they were listening in to me, and then drove home on the Sunday night and you get in at one o'clock in the morning. It's no surprise that one, my marriage got compromised and two, my business got compromised...I think this is when it hurts, when people have a dig at you and say you're crap and things like that, you think, you've no idea of the sacrifices that myself and other part time referees make. Full timers now, it's easier, but not perfect I know a couple of the FTR’s get grief off their wives about the amount of time they spend away from home, because they’re always going Down Under, Tri-Nations, Europe and things like that. It's a lonely life - the rewards are great, but it's a lonely life, and I wouldn't say it's great for relationships.
How do you stop the rolling maul?
Simple. Funnily enough, this is so true, I’ve been on the phone to John
Because it was noticeable in the Heineken quarter final…there was some talk after the
What did he penalise them for? Using their brains?
I think it was. The fact that it shouldn’t have been a lineout anyway…
That’s by the by Mark! The rolling maul, in law, is quite easy to stop. The players are conditioned to seek contact with the opposition, and it’s asking the players to do something totally unnatural. Don’t tackle, don’t get involved, stand off, and then send one round the back.
What law would you change?
What law would I change? I’d change two laws; I’d outlaw the scrum wheeling through ninety, then giving the ball to the defending team, I think that’s encouraging negative scrimmaging; and I’d outlaw players changing position in the lineout. Allow them to move up and down, but once they’ve got into their one to seven position, you stay in that position. That would make things a lot easier.
Two more questions. How much longer do you think you’ve got at the top, and would it be a case of going down the leagues or taking up an assessing job?
Nah…I’ve got two to three more years, if I stay fit and I keep my nose clean with the RFU, which I sometimes struggle to do, and I then see myself becoming a touch judge. I’d want to be involved in Premiership rugby. When you’ve been at this level, this is what you want to operate at.
Last question. Who do you think will end up winning the championship, and who do you think will drop?
Who will go down? One of about four. (Cue very long pause)
Thanks again to Ash for spending the time (and standing in the cold) for the interview.pqs: qs: