North Otago official gets call-up to Mitre 10 Cup

Nick Webster controls the Citizens Shield club rugby final between Valley and Kurow in Oamaru...
Nick Webster controls the Citizens Shield club rugby final between Valley and Kurow in Oamaru last month. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS
North Otago referee Nick Webster has been promoted to officiate in the Mitre 10 Cup - the top provincial competition in the country.

Webster (38), a Totara farmer, said it was a surprise and a pleasure to be appointed to referee in the competition after he had been a whistle blower in the Heartland competition for the past three years.

He had played for both Mid Canterbury and North Otago as a halfback and did not take long to take up the whistle.

``When I was a schoolboy we used to have some pretty average referees and I always thought I would have a go at it,'' he said.

``I've just kept going and given it my best shot.

``It is different than playing. When you play you are part of a big team. When you are a referee you are part of a small team, but when you are out on the field you are sort of out on your own, so you haven't got that team environment.''

He was still playing when he started refereeing, and he wanted to give something back to the game he loved.

Webster said he had met a lot of good people through the game over the years and bumped into many guys he had played against who were now in a coaching or managing role.

He paid tribute to his coach, Colin Hawke, who he said helped him a lot and had done a fantastic job.

Married with three girls, Webster had no lofty ambitions for his refereeing and just wanted to do his best.

He is set to make his debut in the Mitre 10 Cup in the match between Otago and Northland at Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 7.

It was believed the last referee from North Otago to officiate at this level was Paddy O'Brien, who was stationed at Oamaru during his police career in the late 1980s.

O'Brien went on to referee internationally.


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