The recruitment of two highly experienced
referees by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union is set to boost the
standard of refereeing in the local game.
After an intensive
interview process by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, in
consultation with the Hong Kong Society for Rugby Football Union
Referees, the role of National Referee Development Manager will be
taken up by former Rugby World Cup referee Hugh Watkins.
will fill the post of Senior Referee Development Officer
Watkins will head up referee development and
will also be tasked with managing the full-time staff and liaising
with the Hong Kong Referees Society. He comes to the position
following eight years as a professional referee in Wales with the
Welsh Rugby Union. He was also involved in the 2007 World Cup and
two Heineken Cup finals.
The Welshman was a referee for more than 20
years and officiated during the transitional era when rugby went
from amateur to professional status. He was so respected within
the sport in Wales that he was made a life member of the Ospreys
Referee Society in Port Talbot.
“Having been to Hong Kong for the Sevens as part
of the referee panel, I realise how important rugby is here. The
standard of officiating is something I need to assess when I take
up my role,” Watkins, 50, said. “I know that we have some very
good referees on our panel and ultimately my aim is to get someone
onto the IRB panel. I firmly believe that with the right support
and development structure that we will be putting in place, the
opportunity for referees to develop will be there. I will be
working tirelessly along with the HKRFU to ensure that officiating
Meanwhile Baker’s role will be to look after the
performance referees and he will focus on developing them and the
rugby referees academy that is in the process of being set up.
After 12 years of running around in the middle the opportunity to
influence Hong Kong’s referees excites him.
“I’m looking forward to working alongside Hugh.
We are hoping to set up a rugby referees academy here to speed up
the development of talented referees and to put them in in a
professional environment to make the right decisions both on and
off the field,” Baker, 31, said. “The goal is to develop
individuals into top referees in Hong Kong, and to perform at the
highest level week after week.”
HKRFU Head of Technical Development and
Performance Dai Rees couldn’t be happier with the appointments and
looked forward to a constructive relationship that would see the
local game reap the benefits.
“Hugh comes to us with acres of top quality
experience. He’s got great experience across the board from
dealing with amateur referee societies to being a professional
referee himself. He’s had involvement at the very top end of the
game at the high performance level,” Rees said. “Some top quality
personnel applied for the post. Myself, the HKRFU directors, the
referees society and the clubs were all involved in the
recruitment process and we couldn’t be happier with who we’ve
chosen. We’re very pleased to have secured the services of Hugh
who was an all-round outstanding candidate.”
Rees also believes that Baker will be a great
addition to Hong Kong rugby and has all the credentials to improve
the standard of refereeing here.
“Tim is a young referee who was a national panel
referee in New Zealand and ranked number two in Wellington last
year. He came here on exchange and refereed three of our
Premiership games just after Christmas,” Rees said. “So he has
experienced Hong Kong and has the expertise we need. He’ll help
push some of our A panel and performance referees to the next
level. The appointment of Hugh and Tim all bodes well for the
Rees confirmed that in the last three to four
months the union has invested heavily in re-establishing their
Before Christmas the union recruited New
Zealander Mathew Rodden as Community Referees Manager. Since then
they’ve been working with the Hong Kong Society of Rugby Union
Referees to establish a solid structure to build on.
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