WHEN Glasgow Warriors take on the Southern Kings at Scotstoun on Friday night, there will be a familiar face overseeing the match. Mike Adamson, who spent four seasons on the home club’s books between 2006 and 2010 will be the man with the whistle.
But Warriors assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys dismissed the notion that the 33-year-old, who is the only Scotsman out of 13 officials on the league’s elite coaching panel, might favour his former club.
“He reffed us against Edinburgh last year and Edinburgh came away and won so I don’t think you can say he’s going to be biased towards us,” pointed out Humphreys, referring to the final game of the 2016-17 regular season, when Edinburgh ran out 18-29 victors at Scotstoun.
“We’re keen to get young referees out there and hopefully he’ll enjoy the occasion and the game,” the coach added.
Adams was a talented stand-off, who was equally happy playing full-back, but his size worked against him and he didn’t ever manage to fully establish himself in the Warriors set-up. He did, however, have a distinguished career representing Scotland on the international Sevens circuit, and was also a member of three domestic championship winning sides with Glasgow Hawks before his pro career took off.
Since first picking up the whistle during the 2012-13 season, Adamson’s refereeing career has skyrocketed. He initially focussed on the abbreviated game following a path which culminated in him being the only British man to officiate at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, before switching back to the 15-aside game.
This might not the first time Adamson has refereed the Warriors, but the fact that this game involves a team from out-with Scotland [indeed from out-with this hemisphere] means that there is a very different dynamic.
There has never been any question about Adamson’s integrity, so it would be grossly unfair to predict that he will be inclined towards any sort of bias on Friday night, either in favour of Warriors due to an instinctive historic allegiance or against them as some sort of over-compensation. It is, however, bizarre that the league’s organisers would put him in such an awkward situation. When emotions run high, the man in the middle is an easy target – so this appointment creates an unnecessary risk that the credibility of the game might be compromised.
Both assistant referees and the TMO for this match are also Scottish.
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has already made an almighty fuss this season about the standard of officiating in the PRO14, stating that teams are not handled equally across the board, so it is not the case that referees are beyond reproach.
With 13 candidates to choose from, it was surely within the capability of Greg Garner, the league’s elite referee manager, to find an official who doesn’t have quite as close a connection to one of the competing teams.
Not that Humphreys was in the mood for worrying about an issue which is beyond his control. After two painful defeats in the European Champions Cup to Exeter Chiefs and Leinster during the last fortnight, he is purely focussed on helping ensure that the Warriors rediscover some of their early season swagger on Friday night to pick up a seventh consecutive win at the start of this PRO14 campaign. The home team are red-hot favourites against a side which has not yet managed to pick up so much as a losing bonus point since joining the competition during the summer.
“We started this season pretty well but there were certain parts we always felt needed improving and we came up against two really good teams in Europe – it’s made us understand what we need to do to get better and be successful,” said Humphreys.
“Holding onto the ball a bit more, creating more pressure, not allowing teams out get as much into the game as they have. It’s something we’ve reviewed and hopefully is something we’ll start making progress in.”
“We want to do that on the weekend regardless of who it’s against. It’s great to get back into the league and we can’t afford any hangovers from Europe.”