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Rugby league referees’ body looking for match officials

Thursday 9 March 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Rugby league referees’ body looking for match officials
Referee Lua Tua keeps a close watch on Lady Panthers versus Lady Eels match on Friday last week at The Swamp. The Panthers won 18-10. 23030840

The ‘under resourced’ Cook Islands Rugby League Referees Association is looking for more match officials as round one of the domestic 13s competition draws to a close.

The second round of the competition starts next week and the referee’s association is still sweating on match official numbers to efficiently manage the weekly games.

Association technical advisor Taua Benioni said they have 10 match officials officiating the age group to premier men’s and women’s matches weekly.

There are seven matches held each week – two under-14s, one U16, one U19, a women’s match and two men’s matches. In a double header weekend – held twice in a season – two women’s matches are held on Fridays and both premier men’s matches are played on Saturday as opposed to Friday and Saturday.

Benioni said ideally the association would like to have a 20-member match officials’ panel.

“There are a number of reasons why we don’t have that many match officials and the major one is the pressure they face from the fans. They get put off, there’s sometimes verbal abuse as well. Also, the shouting from the coaches,” Benioni said.

“It’s all about having the right attitude like the ones who are still part of the association, they have been there for the past three years and they have the right attitude, understanding and discipline to get through all these abuses. They have handled the pressure well.”

Benioni said to overcome the issue they had asked all clubs to put forward two officials each at the start of the season.

“None of the clubs contributed, not even one.”

Benioni said while the standard of refereeing could be improved, those who have volunteered to pick up the whistle have shown excellent progress.

“A majority of them have played the game before so they have a good understanding of the rules. I have been working with them updating on the rules etc.

“However, there is a need to develop referees from the grassroots level and bringing them up through the grades.”

Benioni also said match officials were graded throughout the season and those with high ranks get the opportunity to officiate the grand finals.

He said there was a healthy competition among the five leading match officials who strive for the best each week to earn their spot in the final.

The match officials also receive an allowance from the Cook Islands Rugby League Association which Benioni said “the guys are happy with”.

“They want to ref and they don’t worry about the pay, they take whatever is given to them.”

Anyone interested to join the Cook Islands Rugby League Referees Association can contact competition coordinator Franky Toa on 56237.