The NRL has launched a partnership with Country Universities Centre (CUC) in order to improve facilities and resources for Match Officials in regional locations.
The new partnership with CUC means referees and match officials will be able to gain qualifications and expand their skill bases without the need to travel.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Skills John Barilaro joined NRL General Manager – Officiating Tony Archer today for the announcement in CUC Snowy Monaro, one of the regional locations which will house officiating facilities.
Mr Archer said it an important initiative for the game which would improve recruitment as well as retention in officiating.
“One of the key challenges for the game when it comes to recruiting and keeping officials in regional locations has been the ability to give them education and training facilities,” Mr Archer said.
“With this partnership, we will now be able to offer match officials facilities across multiple regional locations.
“We already have a strong presence in major centres through our HUBS (High-performance University-Based Structure) and now we will enhance our facilities in regional centres through this partnership with CUC."
Mr Archer, from Newcastle, said leading officials Ben Cummins (Canberra), Gerard Sutton (Coonabarabran), Shayne Hayne (Muswellbrook) and Paul Simpkins (Newcastle) all hailed from regional areas.
He added there were currently 1604 Referees within the CRL network of 4438 in the national network (36 percent).
Mr Barilaro was joined by Mr Archer and CUC CEO Duncan Taylor today at the CUC in Cooma to meet local students, referees and local players and announce a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations.
“The identity of our regional towns are often built around our sporting clubs. Sport brings communities together, so it is fantastic news that Country University Centres will help produce homegrown and highly skilled referees,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The CUC and NRL partnership will boost grassroots rugby league by providing opportunities for new match officials, coaches and trainers to join the game and enable them to gain these qualifications without having to leave their home and families.