Staffordshire Society referee Dale Newitt will take another important step in his career development when he flies to South Africa on July 13 for a three weeks exchange.
Newitt will be the latest young referee to benefit from a link between the RFU's Referees' Department, based at Castlecroft in Wolverhampton, and Kwa-Zulu Natal where he will take charge of club and schools matches in Durban during his exchange period.
Other referees to have benefited from refereeing in Durban include Wayne Barnes, a Zurich Premiership referee lwho has recently been appointed to the International Rugby Boards' international C-List of match officials, and Leicestershire's Rob Debney, who also officiated in Zurich Premiership matches last season.
Newitt, a 27-year-old food analyst from Burton, took up refereeing seven years ago after his playing career with Burton was cut short by a wrist injury. He rose quickly through the ranks and has just completed his second season on the National Panel where he has taken charge of games in National Two and National Three and acted as touch judge in National One. The South Africa exchange will form part of his development towards taking charge of National One games next season.
"I took up refereeing after the wrist injury forced me to stop playing," Newitt said. "I sued to go down to Burton to watch and one afternoon the referee for the veterans' game didn't turn up.
"I said I'd referee to help out and I was hooked. I wasn't a very good spectator so refereeing has been very good at keping me actively involved in rugby.
"I joined the Staffordshire Referees' Society, moved onto the Midlands group for 18 months and I've just done two years on the National Panel.
"I'm looking forward to the trip out to South Africa although I haven't had my programme of matches yet. It will be good experience refereeing in a different country with different slightly different coching approaches and styles of play and a good test for myself ahead of next season."
Newitt will be travelling to South Africa with former Warwickshire Society referee Greg Garner who is now based in London.