The Border Rugby Referee Society (BRRS) is leading the way to get young people involved in rugby – not to play, but by controlling the whistle.
Following concerns about numbers coming through the system, Borders regional referee development manager Iain Heard and former high performance coach Bill Calder started a recruitment drive to bring young people and ex-players into their society through introducing a BRRS development scheme.
The scheme is modelled on the National Referee Academy, the idea being coaches are allocated three referees to mentor throughout their progress. In addition, meetings will be held for the development squad with further support available when needed.
The initial meeting was deemed a success, with nine youngsters attending and a further five expressing interest, which speaks volumes for the future of refereeing in the region.
Professional referee and member of the BRRS, Andrew McMenemy, attended the meeting to chat about his career and the opportunities available for officials.
Heard said: “There are many opportunities out there for referees and we see this programme as the first step in helping people take up these chances.
“We still need the support of the local clubs to make this scheme successful and we will be working with them over the next few months to find common ground.
“Hopefully by making this work we will be able to attract more young people or ex-players into the officiating side of the game.
“We are showing what support and development we can provide to make the process of becoming a referee, a simple one.”
In season 2013/14, two young referees have become members of the society, with a further one potential official coming through the system, their progress unfortunately hampered by an injury.
The BRRS held a meeting looking forward to season 2014/15, explaining their implementation plan and mentoring scheme that exists to make the transition into the refereeing side of the game as smooth as possible.