Launch of Club Referee Initiative

Wednesday 04 December 2019

  • NRU
  • NRU
  • NRU

On Thursday 28th November 2019 at a rainy cold Kingston park the launch of the “Club Referee Initiative” took place.

Martin Train, a club referee from Whitley bay Rockcliff RUFC, has been supported by Simon O’Neil, NRU Match Official Development, since he took his ERRA qualification two seasons ago. Martin has been a great supporter of the work being done by NRU / NRURS regards refereeing with in his club, and the coastal cluster he is part of, in promoting refereeing at Mini/Junior level.

Martin along Richard Downing, NRURS referee, took charge of the Schools U13’s finals under the watchful eye of Simon and did a sterling job officiating some really competitive rugby.

The Club Referee Initiative, born out of two years work by Simon, comes into place to support the referees that operate in games where the society does not cover, was to be training, support and develop these volunteers. About this initiative, Simon says “from delivering the ERRA courses students often talk about creditability, one of the big impact factors in that creditably is looking the part. On that point I designed a shirt that would say to any teams/coaches/parents, this is a club referee who has undergone training and is supported. They might be from that club but they can present themselves with a degree of neutrality. I have seen too many times the referee running out in the same colours as the home team.”

The shirt demonstrates the link between clubs, society and local RFU, as we have the same sponsors and the shirt proudly shows all the Northumberland Clubs as well as liveried in NRU colours. Also, on display is the commitment to Rugby Safe and Headcase which unpins the safety element that is a foundation of what we are trying to uphold by supporting the officiating of these games with well trained and prepared referees. Thanks to all the people who have played their part in seeing this of the ground.

Northumberland’s Game Development group is made up of three sectors lead by Chris Davy. Coaching, First Aid and Referee, and is supported by Dave Reed, local RFU RDO and his team. At its heart is an aim that every team in Northumberland has atleast one person covered by the three elements at every game. A lot of work has gone into improving coaching but to deliver the rugby of the future we also need the other two factors and safe and well-motivated and trained referees will improve the game and make it the safe and enjoyable game for all.   

The club referee initiative will combine the work of NRU game Development and NURUS (Northumberland Rugby Union Referee Society) to support referees in the clubs below the levels the society can appoint to, offering training such as the 3hour CPD through to the 2-full day Refereeing qualification, mentoring and continues development at meetings and bespoke training events.

This initiative runs of the back of the successful Junior Referee Development project which has taken referees over the age of 14 and prepared them for senior rugby and hopefully onto the refereeing junior they choose and has been operating well for the last 6 years. Most of the work done aided the national Young Match Official programme ran by the RFU and NRU is proud to be a major player in that scheme. We offer training to students aged 14 and over to take the 3hours course where the learn the principles of refereeing and prepares them to take on the 2-day full refereeing course. Simon has a vision to support 20 students each season to achieve the full qualification, join the scheme and use the refereeing opportunities to develop their communication, decision making and strong mental wellbeing skills which will see them in their future careers not just in sport. Experience such as work as a team of three with a society referee, to officiating at small events to being supported when in the middle by the mentors such as Simon as well as the three NRURS mentors Tom Grayson, Rebecca Rees and Richard Downing.

Any enquires regards the scheme either club referee or Junior Referee Development Project please feel free to get in touch with Simon O’Neil

Simon O’Neil

RFU Senior Developer / NRU Match Official Development 07981 360793                                                                               

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