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The Gloucester and District Referees’ Society offers so much to the game of rugby

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Saturday, 1st December 2018, 09:00

Gloucester and District Referees’ Society members show off their new sponsored strip Gloucester and District Referees’ Society members show off their new sponsored strip

Anyone who has played or watched the great game of rugby will tell you of the key role that match officials play in helping to make it such an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Players play but they can’t play without match officials and fortunately the county are very well served in this area, because the Gloucester and District Referees’ Society has been going since well before the turn of the 20th century.

Adrian Danks is the current chairman of the society – a position he has held for the past “six or seven years” – and is a former referee himself.

The society has some 100 members and about 60 to 70 active referees.

And while that may sound a lot, it must be remembered that Gloucestershire is a true rugby hotbed and that match officials are required not just on Saturday afternoons.

“We cover midweek school and university games,” explained Danks. “They are played on Wednesdays and Thursdays and we also cover club age group games on Sunday mornings.”

Throw in all the end-of season Combination cup games which remain so popular with so many clubs and it’s almost something of an understatement when Danks says “it’s quite a big area to cover”.

The society meets at 7pm at Hucclecote Rugby Club on the third Tuesday of every month during the rugby season, and would welcome along anyone who is interested in taking up the whistle.

“Anyone can get involved,” he said. “We’ve had some start as young as 14. They can’t take charge of adult games until they are 18 but they can referee youth games, that’s where they get their grounding.

“We look for a variety of people. Ideally they’d be about 30 and played a bit of local rugby but you can get people of all ages, it depends on their situation.”

Danks took up refereeing after picking up an injury playing for Brockworth.

He’s been a member of the Gloucester and District Referees’ Society for 28 years – people like finance manager Les Newcombe and referee appointments secretary Rodger Brennan have been involved for even longer – and these days coaches some of the up-and-coming referees.

“I had a year out from playing because of injury, got involved in refereeing and didn’t play again,” Danks said.

Danks, like so many, found that refereeing was an enjoyable experience and the society can certainly claim to have helped some top names along the way.

Former top referee Chris White is a member of the society as is current top ref Christophe Ridley. Former Gloucester prop Nick Wood, who is now on the RFU panel, is also a member while Wayne Barnes, considered by many to be the top referee around today, is an ex-member.

“Gloucestershire is a great place for referees to cut their teeth,” said Danks, “because the standard of rugby is so good.”

That’s something that the likes of White and Barnes would certainly agree with and they, like so many others, will have been helped in their development by the good number of courses that the Gloucester and District Referees’ Society run, usually at the start of the season.

And anyone making their way as a referee is pretty much guaranteed one thing.

“Respect,” said Danks. “You get respect as a referee, it’s part of the culture of rugby.”

And that is one of the reasons that Wadworth, the family brewery based in Devizes, have just announced a new sponsorship deal with the Gloucester and District Referees’ Society.

“Wadworth sponsoring our strip each year is a tremendous boost and we are more than happy to be part of it,” added Danks.

Wadworth also sponsor the Bristol Referees Society and are the main sponsor of the Gloucestershire Rugby Football Union.

Other Images

Jerry Green, of Wadworth, presents Adrian Danks, chairman of Gloucester and District Referees’ Society, with a case of Wadworth 6X in the presence of a few society refs wearing their new strip

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