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USA Rugby’s head of their national 7s refereeing program, Pat McNally, has been tapped for a singular honor worldwide.
McNally is one of two men to be hired by the International Rugby Board as a Sevens Referee Selector. He joins New Zealander Vinny Munro in that position. Both men will work closely with IRB Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien in evaluating referees on the Sevens World Series circuit, and giving assignments to those refs.
It is very rare for an American to get such a high-profile job where he needs to show not only organizational skills, but a deep understanding of the game and the laws.
McNally said he was picked in part because he was able to spend time with O’Brien at various tournaments – notably the USA Sevens in Las Vegas – and showed his understanding of what a high-level 7s referee needs to do.
“Paddy said he didn’t want a yes-man,” McNally told RUGBYMag.com. “What Vinny and I will be doing is using a rating system and game analysis to evaluate referees and give assignments on the basis of merit. We’re looking at poise, demeanor, accuracy, and other factors.”
Referees are constantly evaluated during these IRB tournaments, and get their assignments for the plum games – the Cup and Plate Final and the Semifinals – based on their performances the first day, or the week before.
McNally said he will continue to be impartial in his evaluation of American refs on the circuit, namely Mike Kelly, as well as remaining impartial when the USA team is on the field. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a proud American.
“It’s a huge honor to be part of this, and to be an American asked to be a part of this,” he said. “I am very pleased.”
McNally will remain in his job with USA Rugby but does receive a small stipend for his work. He will attend five tournaments in his role as a Referee Selector: Dubai, Port Elizabeth, Hong Kong, Glasgow and London. He will also be in Las Vegas in his job setting up refs and officials for the Las Vegas Invitational and the USA 7s.
For American rugby, this is a small but important step. To have anyone from the USA in referee circles respected enough to become an evaluator of referees from any country is something almost unheard of.