Top referees selected in new-look development programme

Top referees selected in new-look development programme

A new-look development referee programme has been introduced in 2024 and features more than 70 of the country's leading referees.

The programme sees the traditional High Performance squad disbanded in favour of a regional model which will allow more referees the exposure to development and training.

Split along Super Rugby regional lines, the five squads will come together for three development workshops a year in their regions, with each group having leading coaches overseeing their programmes. 

New Zealand Rugby’s High Performance Referee Manager Chris Pollock said the new model will lead to enhanced development of our referees.

“In New Zealand we are fortunate to have several international referees across the men’s and women’s game, so giving our emerging referees the ability to learn and develop alongside some of the world’s best is a great opportunity.

“By broadening our reach, we can focus on development and education within the referee pathway both on field and for referee coaches as well. We believe these changes will contribute significantly to the growth and improvement of our overall system,” said Pollock.

With five referees recently involved in the men’s Six Nations, and more appointments to be expected for the women’s Six Nations shortly, New Zealand refereeing stocks are in good health.

“It’s fantastic for our referees to see that pathway in action and by coming together for these regional workshops it will give emerging referees a taste of what is required to be at the top of the game.”

The Chiefs region is represented with the biggest selection, 17 referees coming together, while there are a total of 13 women across the five groups. 

Former international players Tiana Anderson (Black Ferns Sevens), Krysten Cotterell (Black Ferns) and Warwick Lahmert (All Blacks Sevens) are included as are two husband-wife duos, with Cotterell joined by husband Tipene in the Hurricanes region group and Ben and Larissa Woolerton in the Chiefs region.

Cotterell, Chloe Sampson and Kaitlin Bates are all current reciepients of the New Zealand Rugby women's rugby scholarship which targets current and former players to to get involved with refereeing.

Blues Region: Ben O'Keeffe (Auckland), Angus Mabey (Auckland), Marcus Playle (Auckland), Natarsha Ganley (North Harbour), Maggie Cogger-Orr (Auckland), Scott McKenzie (North Harbour), Todd Petrie (Auckland), Sam Adam (Auckland), Nathan Chesnut (Northland), Dean Harris (North Harbour), Kyle Lagerwall (North Harbour), Ryan Borthwick (North Harbour), Tim Olliff (Auckland), Ollie Hadfield (Auckland), Tomas Roche (Auckland), Leo Palmer (Northland), Dion Aho (Auckland)

Chiefs Region: Paul Williams (Taranaki), Brendon Pickerill (Bay of Plenty), Mike Winter (Waikato), Ben Woolerton (Waikato), Tiana Anderson (Bay of Plenty), Will Johnston (Taranaki), Andy Morton (Bay of Plenty), Ben Brownlie (Waikato), Brandon Roberts (Counties Manukau), Larrisa Woolerton (Waikato), Chloe Sampson (Taranaki), Kaitlin Bates (Waikato), Cole Northcott (Waikato), Warwick Lahmert (Taranaki), Mitch Young (Taranaki), Sam Fellows (Bay of Plenty), Liam Sargent (Counties Manukau), Estelle Whaiapu (Bay of Plenty)

Hurricanes Region: Dan Waenga (Hawke’s Bay), Stu Curran (Manawatu), Jono Bredin (Hawke’s Bay), Nick Hogan (Hawke’s Bay), Stu Catley (Hawke’s Bay), Tipene Cottrell (Hawke’s Bay), Jack Sargentina (Wellington), Krysten Cottrell (Hawke’s Bay), Jacob Booth (Manawatu), Matt McEwen (Manawatu), Matt Thomas (Wellington), Charlie Harris (Wellington), Ethan Loveridge (Wellington), Warwick Price (Manawatu), Sam Couper (Manawatu), Claire Richardson (Wellington)

Crusaders Region: Jackson Henshaw (South Canterbury), Dan Moore (Canterbury), Ben Alexander (Canterbury), Taneika Uerata (Canterbury), Josh Edmonds (Canterbury), Jonty Gallagher (Canterbury), Chris Paul (South Canterbury), Josh Rooney (South Canterbury), Stef James (Tasman), Will Todd (Canterbury), Ben Mclaughlan (Canterbury), Karl Hancox (Canterbury)

Highlanders Region: James Doleman (Otago), Fraser Hannon (Otago), Cassie Watt (Southland), Georgia Mason (Southland), Erin Doherty (Otago), Caleb Neilson (Otago), Logan Whitty (Otago), Josh Hamill (Southland), Michael Buttery (Otago), Jackson Brylie (Otago), Jarrod Fox (North Otago)

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