Swiss Referees on international duty in the Rugby Europe Championship
It was a premiere, and a ray of sunshine in this cold and gloomy winter.
This year, the winter break has gone almost unnoticed for Swiss rugby, in the shadow of a pandemic that has immobilized the world's amateur sport, with rare exceptions, for too many months.
However, a ray of sunshine came to light up the Swiss oval world with the appointment of its two international referees for the last leg of the 2020 Championship, the antechamber of the 6 Nations, last Feb the 7th.
Ethan Glass and Yann Benoit were appointed to assist referee Chris Busby (Ireland) for the clash between Spain and Portugal in Madrid. It was a great recognition for the development work in Swiss rugby in general and in officiating in particular! Indeed, this was the first time ever that Swiss referees took part in a competition at this level, generally reserved for officials from participating nations or those of the higher division (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy or France).
With a reinforced Rugby Europe health protocol, and with the support of the FSR and Swiss Olympic, Ethan and Yann were able to travel to Madrid, a city strongly affected by Covid.
“It is indeed quite surreal to go to Madrid for a rugby match at this time of the year," Ethan concedes, "but Rugby Europe has really set high sanitary standards for the match to take place". Both teams have also done everything possible, both in terms of health protocols and with their respective authorities, to be able to play this last European championship match, which has already been postponed once before (originally scheduled for November 2020).
In addition to the three Covid tests planned, the protocol prohibits the official meal the day before and the famous post-match ceremony between the two teams. "Of course, it's frustrating, we would have preferred this match to be played with the public and enjoy a 3rd half, but how can we complain? We are privileged to have been invited to the occasion, to be back on the pitch and in the competition, and all this in the Spanish sunshine. Out of 6 referees appointed for this competition, 2 are Swiss, it's exceptional." was the positive conclusion of Yann.
Spain won the match by a score of 25 to 11. But there is no doubt that on that day, Switzerland also won a small victory on the international rugby stage. "We have a huge thought for all the Swiss referees. We hope that they are proud of us today and that others will have their chance soon. They are a great group of people who motivate us to always improve. We also do not forget the Swiss clubs with whom we are working more and more closely, and who have raised the standards for us. It is finally a recognition for the whole of Swiss rugby, of which we are the happy representatives today." confirms Yann.
Ethan, for his part, has only one desire: to start again as soon as possible! This time on the whistle? It will be another ray of sunshine that we all wish for him and for all of us.