In the very early days of rugby any dispute was in the hands of the captains. On the rare occasions that no agreement could be reached, the aggrieved one would march his team off the field.
Around 1866 umpires were appointed – one for each side. The captains were still the main arbiters of any arguments. In 1882 a neutral referee was appointed for an international match – and the umpires became linesmen.
It was not until 1885 that the referee was given a whistle. In the early days the referee could only blow the whistle if one of the linesmen had raised his flag. Gradually the power and authority of the referee was changed. Today the referee is supposed to be the man in charge.
Today, in the `bigger’ games, following the advent of T.V. and advanced technology, the referee can call upon a fourth official. This official has access to television replays and can allow a try. He can help the referee come to a decision.
The Eleven Plus examination is one of a very select collection of tests where a replay is not allowed. We know that there are events called the `12+’ and the `13+’ – but if a child fails the 11+ there is no second chance.
Some children must be unfairly penalised by the rigid Eleven Plus rule on `one chance only’. Perhaps one day a parent will be able to appeal to the European Court of Justice. The court is designed to make the law fair and consistent right across Europe. It does not matter that no other member of the community is engaged in Eleven Plus examinations. The European Court of Justice seems a logical place for an appeal to what is an obviously unfair situation.
Three years ago we worked with a girl from Sri Lanka. She arrived with us with fifteen months to the examination and with an oral vocabulary of around six years old. We worked on spoken English, vocabulary and comprehension – as well as usual eleven plus fare. In her 11+ examination she reached a score of 140 on the verbal reasoning test. In other words she was outstandingly bright. She failed by two marks on the mathematics test. She passed the non verbal reasoning test. The grammar school, however, would not admit her. She failed on appeal. There was no recourse to any other court of authority.
I should imagine that years ago the captains of the rugby teams would have sat down with a beer to sort the problems out. Surely the girl’s father should have been given the opportunity to sit down with the head of the grammar school and come to some compromise. At the very least the family should have been able to chat to someone from the grammar school outside of the formal appeal situation.