French rugby league match officials spend week in England

Four promising French Match Officials, under the watchful eye of Nicolas Silvestre – a member of the French Federation’s Match Officials Board – visited England last week to take charge of several games to aid their development.

Gabriel Tollot (18) from Albi, Hugo Carpentier-Ruellle (21) and Louis Moreau (18) from Toulouse and Enzo Peyre (20) from Bergerac spent the week based in Manchester as part of an initiative by the FFRXIII to give opportunities to promising young match officials.

The trip was arranged in conjunction with Mike Smaill from the RFL’s Match Officials department, and the plan is for a party of upcoming young English referees to visit France during their off-season to give similar opportunities.

All of the visiting officials have been involved in Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique’s Super League and Championship games in France, and all have experience as touch judges in the French Elite 1 league and as referees in the U19s league, with Peyre also having had refereeing appointments in Elite 1 and Elite 2 on a regular basis.

Peyre was touch judge for York City Knights v Halifax Panthers in the Championship, whilst Carpentier-Ruellle was appointed to Swinton Lions v Sheffield Eagles, with Tollot and Moreau, with Silvestre in support, officiating an U14s game between Saddleworth and Wigan St Judes between them.

Mid-week saw the group at Woolston Rovers and Orrell St James’s for more junior games, before Peyre and Carpentier-Ruellle were reserve referee and reserve touch judge respectively at Warrington Wolves v St Helens in the Men’s Super League, while Peyre took charge of St Helens v Warrington Wolves in the Women’s Super League with Silvestre and Tollot touch judging. Carpentier-Ruellle and Moreau touch judged Salford Red Devils v Barrow Raidettes in the same league.

“I was excited for my appointments, but I was ready and confident,” explained Peyre who also gained experience in last year’s U19s European Championships in Italy. “I was very pleased with the whole week and the experience gained was very valuable.”

As well as the games, the group also spent two days training with the RFL’s full time match officials at their Ruskin Drive facility in St Helens, with time also spent in the gym and learning about rehabilitation, including an evening field session with the part-time referees.

St Helens match official’s society also welcomed the group to their meeting and they spent time meeting luminaries of the English match officials ranks such as Tony Brown and Gerry Kershaw.

“It was hard days at Ruskin Drive,” noted Moreau. “It was an interesting experience to learn from the top match officials. At our games it was very useful to practise English and to work with the younger players. We got good feedback from the coaches too. I am very happy with the week.”