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# shortage
Munster hope to resolve refereeing dispute 'as a matter of urgency'
The Munster Association of Referees has issues with the Branch’s proposed governance changes.

THE MUNSTER BRANCH is hoping to resolve a dispute with the refereeing ranks in the province “as a matter of urgency” following the postponement of several domestic rugby games in recent weekends.

The Branch is currently dealing with the wider problem of a severe shortage of active referees following the return of amateur rugby this season after the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

The Branch’s ongoing dispute with the Munster Association of Referees [MAR] has exacerbated that shortage, with some referees making themselves unavailable for games.

The dispute has been live for several months since the Branch made moves to alter the structure of the MAR in order to bring it into line with advice from Sport Ireland and the IRFU.

The MAR is split into north and south divisions, with the latter understood to be in disagreement with the Branch over the proposed changes to governance.

As a result, some referees have made themselves unavailable for games, threatening the viability of fixtures from the men’s and women’s All-Ireland Leagues all the way down through junior and underage rugby.

There has been major frustration for the players, coaches, and supporters involved in the games that have been affected so far, with strong hopes that the dispute can be resolved as soon as possible in order to avoid further disruption.

“The Munster Branch is looking to align all governance structures and follow best practice as set out by Sport Ireland and the IRFU,” said a spokesperson for Munster Rugby.

“Numerous meetings have taken place and the Munster Branch is seeking to engage with all parties in the hope of resolving this issue as a matter of urgency.”

When asked if games will continue to be affected by the dispute, the Branch said that the wider issue of a shortage of match officials has been as relevant.

“While a very small group of referees are not willing to fulfil fixtures, we are hugely grateful to the majority of our volunteer referees who continue to meet the officiating needs of the province,” said the Munster statement.

“There are a number of factors as to why a small amount of games are not played each week, mainly due to the shortage of active referees available, however, Covid disruptions have also affected games.”

In that sense, it is a worrying time in Munster. The province recently made an appeal for people within the game to take on refereeing courses, while also asking those who have stepped away from refereeing in recent years to reconsider their decisions.

“Due to the shortage of referees across the rugby landscape, completing games at all levels is an ongoing challenge with the number of active referees significantly reduced following the break in rugby over the pandemic,” said the Munster spokesperson.

“As a matter of priority, the province is working closely with clubs and schools in this regard, and recruitment details were communicated to all parties in mid-October.”

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