Monday, August 11, 2014

Referee Profile - Shawn "Bean" Martin

Bean overseeing a scrum between Colorado College & Texas Tech
Name: Shawn Martin
Nickname: Bean
Height/Weight: 5' 11" 175lbs.
Positions played: Hooker, Flanker (Outside Center for one game) 

How did you get into rugby? 
In High School, we were required to play a sport our freshman year. I had a single mom who never had time to get me into youth sports, so it was a bit terrifying to me. I ended up being on the football team for four years, but mostly playing scout team. When I got to college, I told myself that I didn't have time for sports. But then I saw my first rugby game...and I don't know if it was the smell of the grass or what, but I was at practice the following Tuesday.

Eo and Bean
Clubs/Referee Societies: University of Dallas Rugby Football Club, Society of Texas Referees, Texas Rugby Referee Association

What is the best pitches on which you have refereed?
1. I always love reffing on the Bob Macnab Rugby Pitch (on the University of Dallas campus), because it's where I "grew up" as far as rugby goes. Because of my current ref rank and assignments, I don't get to ref there a lot. I hope I get to do the Alumni game this year. There's a lot of history on that pitch...and I hope a lot more to come.
2. I grew up about thirty miles north of Little Rock, but have been living in Dallas for years. This past season, I got the chance to do a game at the Greater Little Rock Rugby facility and HOLY HELL is it awesome! I didn't even know that Little Rock had a team for years. They have multiple practice fields, a pavilion with real bathrooms and a grill, a weight room, a's unreal what they have out there. Even rivals some of the facilities I have seen in England. And there are a lot of retired referees out there that are extremely friendly and supportive - although the fans are almost as vicious as the Reds fans...
3. I think everyone needs to go out to the Battleship Tournament at some point. GREAT social tournament that you are basically playing/reffing in the shadow of a battleship that is just anchored off the coast!
4. Here comes "Worst Pitch" entry right here. UDRFC did a tour of England and Ireland in 2008. We ended up playing a team while in Ireland in Newport--which I think is just a farming community (in County Mayo). We had brought two sides, so when we showed up and were only going to get one game, I was really disappointed, because I was playing on the social side. Well, the referee didn't show up, so Coach goes up to the other team and says, "We've got a referee with us!" They're skeptical, and say that I can ref one half and they'll get their own ref for the second half. I end up wearing a UT shirt inside out because I didn't bring my ref kit, and apparently I did a good enough job that they let me ref the second half as well (or our team was losing that badly.) But this pitch was incredible! There was a mountain right behind us. And this pitch had obviously been used as a cattle field in the past. At one point, I called a scrum together and noticed that one pack was literally higher than the other because the pitch was slanted!
Bean throwing in the lineout for UDallas versus Oxford Men

Most memorable rugby moment:
1. Back in college ('98 or '99) we at UD would host neutral site games. So I didn't get to play in UD's Saturday game, but we hosted University of Houston while they played Louisiana Tech(?). Coach had UD fill out some of UH's team as they were going through a rough patch that year. I played Flanker for them and got an offload about five meters from the UH tryline. I almost passed it out, but ended up tucking the ball and driving for the score. I got it in, was rewarded the try and then the entire UH team tried to Zulu me right there on the field...because apparently I scored their only try of the season...And this was in the Spring.
2. When UDRFC was touring Ireland, we ended up playing in Limerick. The competitive side played University of Limerick, but the social side I was on played the Limerick Leprechauns. As we're getting off the bus, Coach tells us that we have a chance to win this one, because these old boys don't often play together that often. We are heartened by this news. During the game, I run up to a breakdown because the scrumhalf is in. I see the ball and set up to dish it out. I'm looking for the receiver, find one and then reach down for the ball. And it's not there. I look down at the base of the pile, and one of the Leprechauns is literally cackling and teasing me with the ball, pulling it in and out of the base of the ruck. I was of course incensed, but he ended up giving me the ball. We lost by a lot. Turns out, these guys were the Harlem Globetrotters of Irish Rugby...All of them are capped, and they usually only get together for charity events...
3. I have done the best "We Are Warriors" songs on the European Continent (pic below, because it DID happen!).
Bean leading "We Are Warriors" at Richmond Athletic Ground,
home of the London Scottish.
Most embarrassing rugby moment:
Recently in Little Rock it was a bit muddy (it had rained for five days straight-but their pitch is so well constructed that the weather was not reflected on the field.) Little Rock is driving against Tulsa near the try line. It looks like a forward is about to put one near the post. Being a good ref, I'm trying to get into the try zone to adjudicate a good try. But then, the ball is passed out beyond the posts. I try to cut, but end up being chopped blocked by the padded post. I see the try scored and end up whistling the try from the deck and having to stand up and walk over to the mark. The fans HOWLED!

Pre-match ritual?
In college, I used to try to eat two Snickers bars. That'll get your dander up. Reffing, I try to spend time warming up my body, scanning for tension and then try to spend the last 15 - 30 minutes working on my mental game, focusing on whatever phase of play that I am most going to need in the game ahead. More than anything, I try to think about "How can I make this the best possible game?"

What or who has been your strongest influence in rugby?
Bob Macnab. Coach introduced me to the game of rugby. He called my parents when they thought I was playing a dangerous sport. He talked them down. They ended up overnighting me a good set of boots. He saw a lot in me that I never saw in myself. Yeah, we went out and had good times. But Coach taught us how to behave like men on the field. We were young and we were scrappy. And he inspired us to leave it all on the pitch; then, let's all go have a beer. He always told us that this sport will mean that we can go to any city, reach out to the rugby community, and always have someone to go to the bar with. Rugby is a fraternity. Coach taught me something through this sport. I can only give back to Coach by giving back to this sport.

Your rugby hero?
Anton Oliver (All Blacks Captain, 2001). My favorite player of all time. Renaissance man.

Your ultimate rugby goal?
I am looking to get to the referee "B" panel really soon. Depending on when and how adept I am at achieving that goal, I also have my eyes on making the National Panel.

Bean in Upward Bow pose
on a wakeboard!
What do you do outside of rugby? 
1. My real job is managing a fitness/yoga training facility. I have taught yoga for the past four years.
2. I have a fur-daughter, Eo (short for Eowyn, because, you know, nerd) that is constantly keeping me moving. Absolutely the sweetest and most infuriating dog on the planet. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

What motivates you - in rugby and outside of it?
I think that we all should have a very integrated view when we look at ourselves. As C. S. Lewis puts it, "You are not a body with a soul, you are a soul with a body." I think we often look too much at things that promote "health." I have always been somewhat "fit", but lately I have noticed that there are other dimensions to being the best that I can be. Body. Mind. Life. People at work often ask when I'm going to quit my "other job", meaning rugby refereeing. But I look at refereeing as a chance to, in quick time, put into practice what I'm working on the other 6 days a week. And trust me, I fail a lot. But I think that's how we learn. I have felt like "I've got this rugby thing down" a lot. But there is always something else to learn. Something else to work on. Some new situation that forces us to find a new way of looking at things. I think rugby provides us with an opportunity to do life in an experiment. Try it out on the field. See how it goes. Did it work? Well, okay--move on to the next step. Always be growing.

Shawn "Bean" Martin is one of the many delightful characters in Texas Rugby. We are fortunate to have him in our refereeing cadre. He possesses a healthy outlook on life in general and a love for rugby that is undeniable. If he is whistling a match for your team, please give him the respect he deserves: not just because he is "The Sir," but more so because he referees out of a true love for rugby.

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