On the sideline, everyone can be an expert – but that’s no disincentive for junior rugby referee Morgan Broadbent-Wicks.
The Armidale School Year 12 student has been notching up a number of games with the whistle since achieving his Level 1 qualifications in 2013, and getting plenty more experience as one of 13 NSW recipients of an Australian Rugby Union School Student Scholarship.
This has included being one of 10 flown to Orange to run the field at the State under 14s championships in Orange last month, and being an assistant referee at the last month’s Country v City titles in Tamworth.
“I love rugby and was okay at playing but it was never my strong point – I’ve always been pretty literal and like a sense of order and control, so refereeing has really appealed,” said Morgan, who is the only scholarship holder from northern NSW.
“It is very challenging and it will be years before I get everything correct, but that long term achievement is part of the attraction.”
As part of the program the junior referees watched a Waratahs versus Cheetahs Super 15s match wearing earpieces so they could hear the calls of the referee, who they met with the next day to review the game. He has also been appointed to the Country Referees’ Association, another development pathway.
“There is a lot more emphasis on player safety than in the past. Part of it is also having the confidence to deal with the emotions of angry players when you do make a mistake, which is going to happen,” he said.
“I’m quite comfortable with calling coaches onto the field if required and especially in junior games, reminding them of their responsibilities as role models.”
Morgan expects to further his refereeing qualifications when studying in Canberra next year – perhaps in Pure Mathematics, which appeals to his sense of something being either right or wrong.
“It will give me the chance to be exposed to a higher and faster standard of rugby. I’m very grateful to the New England Rugby Union Referees’ Association who have supported me with the scholarship, and to TAS for encouraging students to take up refereeing.”