Thanks to the success of the Western Australia Rugby Union Referee Association (WARURA), Rugby Australia now recognises the WA Referee Talent Development Group as a selection point for Super Rugby.
Three years ago, WARURA worked to create a talent pathway for upcoming referees wanting to officiate the Fortescue Premier Grade resulting in the inception of the development group.
Currently 17 referees are involved in the program and have been working on both their physical and technical skills to advance to a level where they will be capable of officiating Super Rugby and other National Championships.
Rugby Australia’s National Community Match Official Manager Graham Cooper was apart of the creation of the group and is now seeing the results come to fruition in a number of national level WA referees coming through the system.
“Three years ago, WARURA and I saw a gap in the pathway to develop the next crop of referees towards the Fortescue Premier Grade,” Cooper said.
“We also found that our referees weren’t as regularly in the eyes of Rugby Australia for national appointments such as URC, NRC and other national tournaments.”
“From that WARURA worked to create the Talent Development Group (TDG) to fast-track talented referees through the pathway to get to the level required for both Premier Grade and National Level.”
“With that we were also able to implement a robust coach and mentor program within the group as well.”
Now elevated to a role selecting national referees with Rugby Australia Cooper believes that the Talent Development Group has been integral in shortening the jump from community rugby to national championships and professional leagues.
“The TDG provides an extremely stable program that helps WA refs develop their skills on and off the field helping them cope with the pressure and standards that higher level matches bring," he said.
“Being from WA myself and coming through the system here I think something like this in place would have been fantastic not only for me but my fellow referees.”
“Learning technical skills on the field is a given in any program but this really allows WA referees work on other aspects away from being a referee which we’ve seen helps them in other aspects of life outside of rugby such as social relationships and business.”
Through the program five WA referees have been selected to officiate in round one of the Super Rugby AU season between the Western Force and the Brumbies at HBF Park in Perth.
Sam Jones, Jordan Kominsky, Kyle Burnett, Mark Sheriff and Ian Sunderland will all officiate the match alongside Cooper who will be in the middle making the first ever all WA Super Rugby refereeing line up.
“It’s funny I remember heading down to Britannia where WA Junior Rugby used to be played and seeing guys like Sam Jones officiating as a 13-year-old, back then I realised he was pretty special and programs like the TDG only enhances that,” Cooper said.
“The same goes with Jordan Kominsky who is assistant referee two (AR2) this weekend alongside Kyle Burnett who has been a high level ref in WA for a number of years now, his appointment as TMO is a testament to the work he’s put in.”
“There is a number of refs in this TDG group that I wouldn’t be surprised if they get the call up either for the first time or again to have a crack at these national programs including Super Rugby if the opportunity arises.”
To catch these WA referees in action the Force will play the Brumbies at 7:00pm AWST in Perth at HBF Park which will be broadcasted Live and On Demand on Stan Sport.
If you are interested in becoming a referee in Western Australian Community Rugby all the information can be found on the referee’s page on the RugbyWA website or through the button below.