Love rugby? Take up the whistle and help our kids

Our Counties Manukau rugby refs will be sporting a snazzy new look this season when they take to the fields.

For the first time in quite a few years, the dedicated refs will be stepping out in new gear. One problem though. There’s a bundle of stylie uniforms just waiting for a new home, but not enough ref’s to pop them on. We’ve got a ref shortage and it’s about to start affecting our kids.

Antony Petrie, Referee Education Officer for the Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union advises that across New Zealand, referee numbers have declined for the fifth year in a row. “In Counties, we try to referee down to U12 level, but this year we will be putting a major focus on appointments at Secondary School level and above, and are asking clubs to supply Associate Referees for the junior grades. We probably need about 20 new referees.”

There was a time when refs were copping a fair bit of abuse. However, a successful campaign has seen this turnaround with Antony noting, “Sideline behaviour is improving with less reported cases of referee abuse in Counties and throughout the country, and I must commend the clubs and schools for their help in this.”

A visit by Counties Manukau Rugby to Waiuku College saw 14 year-old student Matthew Salter become one of the youngest to join the refereeing program. He gave up his April school holidays last year to attend a reffing course. “Reffing sounded like fun and it is. I’m really keen to gain lots of experience,” said Matthew.

Jacques Beukman from Waiuku has been reffing for several years now. He took up the whistle to help out at his son’s games. “I had forgotten how good it was to be part of a rugby game. I really enjoy reffing and my goal is to make the game as enjoyable as possible for the players,” add Jacques.

Rugby reffing isn’t just for blokes. Three of Counties refs are women and more are sought. For those serious about reffing, there’s the possibility of travel and advancement. Most professional refs started out reffing at grass roots. Just imagine – travelling the world, getting paid to watch the game you love!

So if you can answer yes to any of these questions, why not get in touch and see if taking up the whistle might be for you. Do you:

  • Love rugby?
  • Like having fun?
  • Want to stay fit?
  • Like learning new skills?
  • Want to give back to your community?

Counties refs get reimbursed for taking up the whistle, so you won’t be out of pocket. You don’t need to know all of the rugby rules, they teach you all of that.
Anyone interested in learning about reffing is encouraged to give Antony a call on 237-0033, or simply turn up at 7.30pm at one of their Monday night meetings at Navigation Homes Stadium (Pukekohe stadium). Go on – do it for the kids.

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