Former Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Chiefs’ first-five-eighth, Daniel Waenga, and New Zealand Netball Umpire, Jono Bredin are among the 12 new referees in the squad.
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Bredin, who was New Zealand Netball’s umpire of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and took charge of the 2018 Commonwealth Games netball gold medal match, said he was looking forward to his new challenge.
“I’ve had a great netball umpiring career and signed off at the top this year with the gold medal match and Premiership Final. I achieved everything I wanted to in the sport and have decided now is the time to throw all my effort into rugby refereeing and challenge myself outside of my comfort zone.”
Bredin said he was encouraged to transition to rugby three years ago by Wellington-based professional rugby referee Ben O’Keeffe.
“I worked closely with Ben when I was umpiring. We did some training sessions together to share ideas and he encouraged me to have a crack at rugby. So far I’ve been struck by how helpful and accepting everyone is and how keen they are to help. The plan is to repay some of that faith.”
Former Chiefs player Waenga has recently hung up his boots and joins fellow squad members Glen Jackson, Jamie Nutbrown and Rebecca Mahoney as former players turned referees.
Returning to the squad for 2019 are professional referees, Glen Jackson, Nick Briant, Mike Fraser, Ben O’Keeffe, Paul Williams and Brendon Pickerill. They will vie for potential selection for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Sevens rugby-specialists Richard Kelly and James Doleman are set to feature heavily in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season, as well as Lauren Jenner, who has been appointed for the World Rugby Sevens Series for the first time.
The 34 National Squad referees will officiate in a range of competitions, including Investec Super Rugby (professional referees only), Mitre 10 Cup, Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, Farah Palmer Cup, Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament and other domestic fixtures.
NZR National Referee Manager, Bryce Lawrence, said selectors were focused on building strength and depth towards Rugby World Cup 2019 and an increase in domestic competition matches in 2019.
“I challenged our selectors to be bold and brave and I am delighted with the squad chosen. Next year will be huge with the Rugby World Cup in Japan and we are hoping to have at least four match officials selected for that pinnacle event,” he said.
“With the women’s game growing at a fast-rate and other domestic competitions constantly increasing in quality, we need to build depth and internal competition within our national squad to ensure we have enough quality referees to match the volume of games being played.”With one eye on the future, Lawrence said he was excited to see the current group of referees to push for selection at both Super Rugby and Test match level.
“We understand that it takes anywhere between two to five years to develop a referee in the high performance environment and I am really interested in how each referee will respond to the opportunities and challenges. It is encouraging to see so many referees come through the programme and I am excited about what 2019 holds.”
The following referees have been selected for the 2019 New Zealand Rugby
National Referee Squad:
(* = new to the National Squad ** = a comeback to the National Squad)Glen Jackson (Professional referee) Bay of PlentyNick Briant (Professional referee) Bay of PlentyMike Fraser (Professional referee) WellingtonBen O’Keeffe (Professional referee) WellingtonPaul Williams (Professional referee) TaranakiBrendon Pickerill (Professional referee) North HarbourJamie Nutbrown CanterburyAngus Mabey Auckland Richard Kelly TaranakiJames Doleman OtagoCam Stone TaranakiMichael Winter WaikatoJames Munro CanterburyTim Griffiths ManawatuNick Webster North OtagoHugh Reed Hawke's BayTipene Cottrell Hawke's BayDamien McPherson Poverty BayNick Hogan WellingtonRebecca Mahoney Wairarapa BushStuart Curran* OtagoJono Bredin* OtagoMarcus Playle* Auckland Chris Paul* South CanterburyBrittany Andrew* ManawatuMaggie Cogger–Orr* Auckland Lauren Jenner* Counties ManukauDaniel Waenga* Hawke's BayGeorge Haswell* CanterburyDaniel Moore* CanterburyLarissa Collingwood* WaikatoMonique Dalley* WellingtonVincent Ringrose** WellingtonRichard Gordon** Wellington