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Queensland call for young Kiwi referees

The region of Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia welcomed over 3500 players, nearly 10,000 passionate spectators and 250 referees for its touch rugby Junior State Cup. It is a three day event that is known as the greatest spectacle on their sporting calendar.

Thousands of people flocked onto the hallowed turf of Queensland footy which is famous for producing talented rugby league players and for its Maroons’ dynasty. Two of the 250 referees were our very own Sancta Maria College students – Quinn Murphy and Enzo Ropers.

The pair represent the Counties Manukau Touch Association and travelled to Queensland with 10 other referees from their programme as part of the Referees Development Tour which this year was introduced for the very first time.

It was a memorable experience for the youngsters who got the chance to umpire 3-4 games a day and also learn new things about the game that they could bring back home. As well as this, they were able to build a strong relationship with their Australian counterparts.

They were mentored by referee coaches and got some great feedback from the Queensland Coaching panel. Quinn and Enzo umpired 10-18 year olds and, considering they are only Year 7 & 8, they did a remarkable job to go out there every match and have the confidence to control the game well and make those critical decisions.

They were faced with some challenging games but persevered and managed to display outstanding performances that they will be proud of. Quinn, who has been a touch rugby ref for nearly three years, said that he loves being a referee and said that the best part about what he does is that he gets looked after pretty well and during the Junior State Cup, he along with the other referees were given VIP treatment at the merchandise shop and were kitted out for free. They were also presented with an official National referee t-shirt by the Queensland Director of Referees.

Quinn talked more about his job saying that he tries his best to make sure that he sticks to the rules and makes the right calls. It’s a big role being a referee but Quinn and Enzo are experts and didn’t back down from any obstacle they were faced with. They really enjoy taking control of the game and Quinn has said that he would definitely consider becoming a professional rugby referee in the future. He wants to encourage kids out there to give it a go with this simple message. “Just start, even if you’re still playing you just need to start and get into it.”

The tour was a great success and Quinn and Enzo continue to grow as referees. This thrilling opportunity has paved the way for bigger and brighter things in the future including the 2018 Youth World Cup and Touch Football World Cup in 2019 in Malaysia.

Shontelle Matano