Date: 6/5/15

Ten leading match officials from eight Rugby League European Federation nations have been guests of the St Helens RL Referees Society, spending five days together at Cowley International College.

They met to trial the new RLEF Level 2 Match Officials course and share best practice on how to teach new referees to develop their match management techniques.

Representatives from the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden undertook a series of classroom and on-field exercises run by RFL and Super League champions St Helens’ community coaches, including the visiting delegates officiating the St Helens Schools 9s competition.

That allowed them to receive instant assessment from the likes of top Super League referee Ben Thaler.

St Helens RLRS chairman Phil Smith – who is also a member of the RLEF Match Officials Development squad – said, “All the delegates appreciated the welcome at Cowley and the use of Saints’ training facility. It gave them a real insight into top level rugby league that they will share with match officials in their home federations.

“On Friday they saw Saints play Wakefield at Langtree Park and, for many, this was their first time at a live Super League match. All had a chance to referee or touch judge in five local matches over the weekend, and a couple went to the Warrington v Widnes fixture on Sunday before flying home.

“The two Czech representatives each refereed half of Clock Face U16s match with Rochdale Mayfield. For them, and the Spanish touch judge, their next game will be in Riga on Saturday when Spain face Latvia in the opening qualifier for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.”

RLEF MO Manager Tom Mather noted, “It was fantastic to see the officials so engaged in their own development and self-improvement. It was also a really useful exercise to try out some of our new development material. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in officiating rugby league at the moment, with great work going on all over Europe.”

Attending were – Misa Vakandranu (Holland); Jean-Pierre Boulangere (France); George Stilianos (Greece); Toni Palacios (Spain); Raj Shah (Sweden); Jason Craughwell (Ireland); Guido Bonatti (Italy); Aris Aroutsos (Greece); Jarda Bzoch and Lukas Hergott (both Czech Republic); Phil Smith (RLEF); Ben Thaler (RFL); Danny McNeice (RFL); Innes Arnold and Denton Arnold (both St Helens RLRS).