Don’t forget the referees, says Ganson

The head of the RFL’s match officials department has warned that referees will need just as much time to prepare for a return to live sport as players will, before revealing his own personal brush with the coronavirus pandemic.
Steve Ganson has stressed that his team of nine full-time match officials will be ready to go whenever they are called upon, but he has warned that their physical and mental wellbeing must be considered when any return-to-play proposals are put together.
He told League Express: “It’s going to be tough for these lads when they come back. We have a psychologist that works with the full-time group and they work closely with them and look after their mental wellbeing, which is going to be important when we start again.
“They do a lot of running in the games, but they also do a lot of work that is mentally demanding. To do that potentially two or three times a week is going to take an enormous toll on them and the welfare of the officials will be considered, just like the welfare of the players.”
Ganson also admitted that how referees go about their business on a daily basis will also be important. The full-time match officials have currently been furloughed, meaning they are left to their own devices when it comes to training, without any advice from the RFL.
“If you’re playing two or even three times a week, we have to look at how we structure our weeks,” he said.
“You’ve got to factor in all the travel, rest and recuperation. We don’t know whether games will be held in France and Toronto, and you’ve got to look at giving them some time away form the sport for their own welfare too.”
Meanwhile, Ganson has recalled the horrendous period in February when he feared he and his wife had contracted the virus following a skiing trip to Italy, which made the RFL believe it would have to shut down.
“When we came back, my wife wasn’t too well but I went to work as normal,” he said.
“I contacted my GP when it came out on the news about notifying if you’ve been to any places in particular, and he told me to go home from work immediately and someone would ring.
“They phoned and said they were sending an ambulance crew for me and my family on the 23rd February; me, my wife and my youngest child were met with three paramedics in hazmat suits and we had to wait nearly 36 hours before the tests came back negative.
“It was a very nervy couple of days.”