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Aspiring refs invited to take up the whistle


High profile: Simon McDowell is a well respected official
High profile: Simon McDowell is a well respected official
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

The Ulster Society of Rugby Football Referees is on the hunt for new blood and will hold a free induction day for the next aspiring Nigel Owens at Newforge Country Club this weekend.

All rugby in the province is officiated by members of the USRFR and, with an increasing demand in both the schools' and women's game, the need for more officials is clear.

Formed in 1950, and having boasted the likes of Stephen Hilditch and Brian Stirling as members, the organisation can currently claim 135 qualified referees, 11 trial members and 39 referee assessors.

Appealing to those whose playing days are nearing an end, either through age or injury, or just those who want to be closer to the action, the course - which commences at 10am on Saturday - welcomes those with any interest in refereeing the game, no matter the standard.

"It is aimed at people interested in refereeing at all levels," said Ulster Branch Referee Support Officer Dan Carson.

"The growth of domestic rugby in Ulster at all levels in both the male and female game is huge and, as referees, we hope to continue to provide a high quantity of quality referees for all levels of the game here."

David Wilkinson, an Enniskillen native who played for both his local club and Portora, is currently Ulster's most prominent referee having made his debut in the Guinness PRO14 back in 2008, while also working as an Referee Development Officer for the IRFU.

Larne's Simon McDowell went to the 2011 World Cup as a specialised assistant referee and has been a TMO in several high-profile encounters.

Anyone interested in attending the course can email for more information.

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