Doleman excited about ‘good opportunity’

James Doleman
James Doleman
Otago referee James Doleman will take another step in his career tomorrow night when he officiates in his first Super Rugby game.

Doleman will referee the match between the Rebels and Lions in Melbourne tomorrow night.

It continues a steady progression for Doleman, who first started refereeing a decade ago when a student in Dunedin.

Doleman, who was the Otago union referee’s education officer before becoming a professional referee late last year, said he was thrilled to get the game.

"It’s very exciting and a good opportunity to referee at the next level.

"There had been some talk of getting a game but nothing was confirmed until earlier this week," he said.

"It is a different environment you are going into and so everything will be a little bit faster. But at the same time thanks to the managers I have, Bryce Lawrence and Lyndon Bray, I have been preparing myself for it and hopefully I know what to expect."

Doleman refereed the match between the Crusaders and the French Barbarians last year and also did the pre-season game between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes in Ashburton in January.

He said those games were great and had prepared him for what to expected.

He has also been an assistant referee for many Super Rugby games.

The key for him is to have a big base of knowledge of the laws and not attempting to change the world.

He will be quite happy if his name is not mentioned at all during the game.

"The best referees are the ones who do not get noticed. Just do the job and get on with it. I will be perfectly happy if on Saturday night I do not get my name mentioned.

"I’ll be nervous but for me being nervous is good. Nerves for me makes me focused."

Doleman started off refereeing when a physical education student at the University of Otago and ended up the No1 referee in the province.

After finishing his study he moved to Auckland to teach but came back two years ago as the referee education officer.

He enjoyed that job but said it was a juggle to do the job while also still refereeing overseas, on the world sevens circuit, and then also have a personal life.

It is easier now to concentrate on refereeing as it is his only job.

After the Melbourne game, he will head to Ireland for two games in the Pro 14 competition in Europe as part of a refereeing exchange.

Doleman, who turns 29 next month, and was married to Erin Smyth at the end of last year, has plenty on the horizon.

The sevens circuit has been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak but the big goal for the year is to officiate at the Tokyo Olympics.

The ultimate goal would be test rugby.

"I’ve had a lot of help along the way and plenty of support. Every referee wants to do a test.

"But an appointments panel does that. That is out of my control so I can’t have any impact on that."

 

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