Northumberland Rugby leading the way in junior referee development

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Club and Northumberland union working together to produce referees of the future.

NEWCASTLE FALCONS have been supporting Northumberland Rugby in developing the next generation of match officials, with Kingston Park hosting an RFU 2 day referee development course last weekend, for the Stage 2 Refereeing the 15 a Side Game Award.

It was a proud moment for Northumberland Rugby as 14 of the attendees who qualified as referees at the end of the weekend are members of Northumberland Rugby’s flagship junior referee pathway project.

The project which commenced 18 months ago, aims to develop the next generation of referees to support rugby at club and county level and beyond and is understood to be the first of its kind within all of the RFU Constituent Bodies.

Pathway team leader Paul Minto explains; “As coaches of lads going into their GCSE year we wanted to be able to give them something extra to help towards their grades but also into the future have something to differentiate them for college applications etc – from there, and with a lot of help from Northumberland Rugby Union, Northumberland Referees Society & Newcastle Falcons we are at a point today where we have a one of a kind programme which was recently recognized by the RFU President at the annual Northumberland Referees dinner”

The club has already been able to benefit from the officials being produced by the programme, with some of the members having refereed at club festivals, and last season’s Land Rover cup. Going forward the intention is for the partnership between the Falcons and junior referee pathway to grow whereby more and more referees will have the opportunity to referee junior rugby and hone their skills for the future.

Gavin Beasley from the Falcon’s community foundation team is delighted that the Falcons have been able to support the initiative saying

“This is a great programme that NRU are piloting, with the number of junior referees on the course, it shows the willingness of both male and female to pick up the whistle and The Falcons Community Foundation support the programme fully. We are looking forward to see the future of refereeing in action and with the junior festivals we run here at Newcastle Falcons, there is a great opportunity for the newly qualified referees to gain experience within short matches with a mentor on the side lines, helping them through the day.”

Lee Weatherley, NRU Chair of Youth Rugby said: “We are already seeing an increased interest in junior rugby as we head into World Cup year, with Newcastle hosting matches. It is clear we will need more qualified referees to enhance everyone’s playing experience at all levels from U6 to senior rugby and these boys and girls have committed to supporting that growth.”

“The programme and its ongoing success will be a cornerstone of NRU RWC2015 legacy plans and the intention going forward is to keep this programme rolling year on year to continue to develop referees to help out at all levels within clubs and also more widely within the county.”

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