Major League Rugby Deepens Referee Roster Ahead of Expanded Season 2
January 30, 2019 - Major League Rugby (MLR) News Release
Salt Lake City, UT: Major League Rugby is set to tackle its expanded 75-game Season 2 with an influx of top new refereeing talent, as the league continues to raise professional rugby standards in North America.
MLR has a two-part refereeing structure for 2019: the match official management group, responsible for overseeing the clear, consistent application of the Laws across the league; and the match official squad, from which the game-day referees and assistant referees are drawn. MLR's Match Official Manager Richard Every heads an expanded match official management group full of international pedigree, including New Zealander Chris Pollock, England's Steve Lander and Rob Debney, Canadians Andrew McMaster and Sean McDonaugh, and former HSBC Sevens strength and conditioning coach Phil Dunne of Ireland.
MLR selected its Season 2 match official squad through an extensive review of North America's top referees. The five referees in the core group are Americans Scott Green and Derek Summers, Paul-Henri Courbier from France and Luke Rogan from Australia, plus one international exchange referee throughout the 21-week season. The exchange referee pool includes Argentinian test match referee Pali De Luca (three weeks); Currie Cup and former HSBC Sevens referee Ben Crouse, from South Africa (six weeks); Wales' Anglo-Welsh Cup match official Elgan Williams (three weeks); Scottish PRO14 and HSBC Sevens referee San Grove-White (three weeks); and English Championship referee Anthony Woodthorpe (six weeks).
With the fixture list set to grow again in Season 3 with the addition of four more teams, MLR also has an eye on the future of officiating. The league has identified two development referees in Canada's Talal Chaudhry and Lex Weiner from the United States. Three more emerging talents - Robin Kaluzniak of Canada, and Steven Fenaroli and Gavin McCandless of the US - will serve an apprenticeship this coming season as assistant referees.
"MLR's vision is to create an infrastructure that combines the best refereeing talent in North America, world-leading experts and a professional, competitive environment," said MLR Match Official Manager Richard Every. "This outstanding group of match officials will make an important contribution to our growing league. Referees have to provide a level playing field by applying the Laws, so that it is the players who decide the outcome of games. That's how we'll create an exciting, accessible rugby product on the field that appeals to sports fans around the country."
The match officials met in Houston at the beginning of the year. They were joined by team coaches to establish clarity and consensus around key phases from a refereeing and playing perspective, and to establish a working relationship. The transparent, interactive approach between coaches and referees, plus access to the match official review and development process, has already created an open and collaborative culture.
"We are seriously impressed by the dedication our referees and officials have shown in the lead up to this all-important Season 2," said MLR Deputy Commissioner Nic Benson. "Their hard work and commitment will be a critical building block to MLR's success. Our team combines some of the best talent North America has to offer with top level international expertise. As we build on our 2018 foundation, we look forward to becoming an aspirational destination for match officials across the continent and beyond."
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