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Referee course broadens Kent youngsters' knowledge

12 July 2013

  • Former Fiji outside half runs elite player group in Canterbury
  • Twenty players return for ELRA course after A levels
Young players in Canterbury development group after taking ELRA referee course with Phil Bowers (back left) and Nicky Little (back right)

Photo: RFU Archive

Learning how to be a referee can add value to anyone’s understanding of rugby union, as the 20 young players who recently completed an ELRA course in Kent will testify.

Phil Bowers ran the Entry Level Refereeing Award course at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys with the cooperation of Nicky Little, 71-times capped former Fiji outside half who is the head of Canterbury’s Elite Rugby Player Development Centre.

Phil is an RFU referee educator, chairman of Sussex Referees and an assistant referee on the RFU National Panel.

The players, aged 17 and 18, returned to the school immediately after taking their A levels, specifically to take the two-day course that was split evenly between classroom work and practical sessions outdoors.

Phil Bowers said: The referee course forms part of our drive to produce educated performers and to ensure the young people we work with stay in the sport and contribute to the game throughout their sporting life.

“We want them to play to the highest standard for as long as possible but we also want to give them the skills to help their club and future young players – maybe even their own sons and daughters.

“The boys voted with their feet, you might say, by coming back for the course after their A levels.

“They play rugby for Canterbury RFC, Dover RFC and Saracens Academy, and I would expect a lot of them will end up playing National League rugby.

“It was an enjoyable couple of days and they learnt a lot from just talking about the game in general, as well as having their eyes opened to a different aspect of rugby, that helped them appreciate the job done by the referee.”

More and more teenagers are taking referee courses – some because they have an eye on taking up the whistle at some time, but others simply to enhance their playing development.

“The Canterbury boys didn’t realise how different the referee’s view of the game was until they did it,” said Phil.

“Some of them assumed the referee can see everything at once, which of course is not the case.”