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The Army Rugby Union is always needing more referees, both for the Union’s competitions and to help provide the broader rugby community with much-needed officials across the country.

Capt Nikki O’Donnell (QARANC) knows how much refereeing can give to your life in rugby, having first picked up a whistle aged 25 while still playing, and working her way through the ranks to being a regular on Premier 15s, National Leagues and international pitches.

So if you are looking for a different challenge in the sport over the next 12 months, here are her top five reasons for getting a refereeing qualification.

1)    It doesn’t mean you have to stop playing, far from it. In fact, it can enhance your performance as a player understanding the laws will add a new dynamic as a player (or even as a coach – Glen Jackson, who until recently was an international referee, is now on the Fiji national team’s coaching staff) with greater game understanding.

2)    It is a different challenge looking at the game from a different perspective. It is also a brilliant opportunity to be able to travel across the UK and the world as part of the rugby community, with the likes of Akrotiri 10s for military competitions and Dubai 7s accessible to all levels of referees.

3)    It is a totally different type of fitness to being a player. You need to have endurance and speed, while also maintaining the mental sharpness to make correct decisions and communicate accurately and clearly to players and people watching on the sidelines. For example, knowing when to blow the whistle and when not to – not an easy skill!

4)    It keeps you involved in rugby while you are recovering from an injury or have been advised not to continue playing due to injury. It is different from coaching because you do cross the whitewash and can positively impact the game and the experience the players have.

5)    You will be a part of a different team. Referees have a real community which is very supportive to help you improve. There is a clear pathway for progression and opportunities for fast tracking those identified with potential.

The referee pathway may be slightly different depending on where you are in the UK and which Rugby Union you are working within.

The Army Rugby Union Referees Society (ARURS) is there for you every step of the way to help you book onto courses and then support your development.

Find out more about the ARURS here

Find out more about training via ARURS here

Images © Alligin Photography, Scrumpix