Balancing act in provision of referees

Referee Tim Lucas officiates in the premier club match between Alhambra-Union and Taieri at the North Ground on Saturday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Referee Tim Lucas officiates in the premier club match between Alhambra-Union and Taieri at the North Ground on Saturday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The top echelon of refereeing is flush with numbers but down below things are not so rosy.

It is something of an annual issue.

When all referees are available there are almost too many referees and not enough games at the premium level.

Otago Rugby Referees Association chairman Chris Hart said the association had some promising referees and others who were making a mark at a national level.

James Doleman was officiating on the World Sevens series and was also a first-class referee. When in town he worked club games and was joined by the likes of Stu Curran and Jono Bredin, who were both members of the national squad.

Other promising referees coming through were Caleb Neilson, Eden Brown, Fraser Hannon and Tim Lucas, among others.

Hart said there was some real quality in the referees coming through and the competition between referees was only bringing out the best in many of them.

Erin Doherty signals for a free kick during the game between King's High School First XV and Otago Boys' High School Second XV at King's High School on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Erin Doherty signals for a free kick during the game between King's High School First XV and Otago Boys' High School Second XV at King's High School on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
If all referees were available, it was tough with only four games in the premium competition for all the best referees to get a premium game.

North Otago referee Nick Webster has also officiated at a Dunedin club game this year.

In the grades down below, including secondary schools, Hart said there had been some issues but he was having meetings to get better co-ordination of games.

''There are people around but we still need more. The environment we have created is great and people speak highly of it but we just have to attract more people,'' he said.

He said if they could get 10 or so extra referees who could help out every second or third week that would be a big help.

Hart said there had been difficulties around the draw and where games were played. Some referees had been refereeing two games and then being asked to be an assistant referee for a premier game.

Premium games are kicking off at 3pm, and not 2.45pm at present, so referees who were officiating a game which kicked off at 1pm could get to the later game to be the assistant referee.

Some games were played midweek when a referee became available but it was not always easy to get a referee for that time.

Ideally it would be best to get referees for all games from about under-12 or at least high school games but on same Saturdays that was not always possible.

Some females had taken up the whistle and Hart said that was encouraging and they were going well.

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