Referees needed as rugby nears

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North Otago rugby referees boss Hamish McMurdo is urging more people to pick up a whistle this year.
The winter season is rapidly approaching and local rugby refereeing ranks are a tad thinner than McMurdo would like.
On any given weekend, his group needs 15 to 20 officials to referee games from premier grade down to under-14 level, and to provide assistant referees from the top to at least First XV level.
“We’re a bit light on the ground,” McMurdo told the Oamaru Mail.
“We’ve had a couple of retirements and a couple of people have moved. I think we’ve had a net loss of two people.
“Last year, we were only just covering a full round of rugby. So two down is quite significant for us.
“If we could get something like four more people, that would make a big difference.”The referees meet every Monday night at Waitaki Boys’ High School.
Plenty of support and coaching is available through McMurdo and former long-serving international referee Colin Hawke.
A prominent example of what can be achieved with the whistle is Valley stalwart Nick Webster, the former North Otago and Nelson Bays halfback who has leaped into the national referees squad.
“He’s put in a hell of a lot of work and is a great example for all local referees,” McMurdo said.
“Nick was a guy who just put out his hand up to help out, even while he was still playing. That’s important for people to know. “You can play rugby and still be a referee. Kids love it when a premier rugby player referees them in the mornings.
“It’s just about putting something back into the game and keeping fit. And it’s about keeping a sport going. We don’t want to have games without referees.”Anyone interested in becoming a rugby referee can contact the North Otago union (434-2053) or look for the North Otago Rugby Referees Association on Facebook.
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