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Waikato Referees Selected for 2017 New Zealand Referee Squads

Winter Bull Ref2New Zealand Rugby’s High Performance Referee Manager Rod Hill this week released the New Zealand Referee squads for 2017.

In 2017 Waikato will be represented by 3 of our referees, the strongest representation by Waikato and our local RRA’s for a considerable time. Michael Winter has been promoted from the Development Squad into the National Squad, Aaron Paterson retains his position in the Television Match Official Panel and Josh Bull gets a much deserved appointment into the Wider Training Group.

Winter had a very successful 2016 club season and was duly appointed to referee the Waikato Breweries Shield final between Melville and Hamilton Old Boys. He then went onto referee seven Mitre 10 Heartland fixtures including a semi and the final of the Lochore Cup between King Country & North Otago.

After showing great accuracy and consistency throughout Super Rugby early in 2016 and throughout the Mitre 10 Cup, Aaron Paterson is appointed once again into New Zealand’s TMO Panel. Aaron was appointed to TMO the Premiership Final between Canterbury & Tasman in the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.

2017 will be Josh Bull’s first season as a member of the Wider Training Group. It is great reward after the dedication and commitment shown by Bull over the last couple of season in Waikato’s club rugby competition. Josh will attend referee camps hosted by NZR and receive additional coaching and support from a NZR Referee Coach while still working alongside his Waikato referee coach, Josh will also attend the Jock Hobbs Memorial U19 Tournament in Taupo in September 2017.

Waikato Rugby’s Operations Manager Bill Heslop says “this reward reflects the value of the newly formed Elite Training Group. This doesn’t come about come about by fluke, as it is a credit to these three guys and the RRA for the time and effort they put into their work ethic”.

It is great to see Waikato Referees so well represented in New Zealand squads. It shows the hard work been done locally is paying off and shows other referees in the region that there is a pathway within refereeing moving forward. 


Waikato Referees Appointed to Heartland & Mitre10 Cup Semi-final's

UntitledSemi-final weekend is upon us for New Zealand's two premier rugby competitions.

On Saturday 22nd October Michael Winter has been appointed to referee his first Heartland Rugby semi-final. He will officiate the Lochore Cup semi-final between King Country v Poverty Bay down at Taupo's Owen Delany Park. In what will be a re-match of the round 2 fixture when King Country came out on top 30-24 in a tight battle at Owen Delany Park. Michael will be officiating in his 10th First Class appointment. 

Sunday will see Damian Botherway head down to Taranaki to be AR2 for the Taranaki v Tasman Mako's semi-final in New Plymouth. Damian will be involved for the third successive year in the play-offs. He has officiated as an Assistant Referee on 4 occasions throughout the Mitre10 Cup - all of which have been outside of the Waikato. He will be joined in New Plymouth with Angus Mabey from Auckland heading down to be AR1, with Mike Fraser from Wellington as the referee to wrap up the weekends semi-finals. 


Josh Bull Debut's at Jock Hobbs Memorial U19 Nationals

Josh Bull

Waikato's Josh Bull was a late call up to the Jock Hobbs Memorial U19's National tournament held in Taupo last weekend. The tournament concluding on Wednesday 21st September with Waikato U19's taking the title over Auckland A in a tight final. 

Josh was a late injury replacement for match day 3 of the national event in its third year. Due to injury to a referee in New Zealand's Wider Training group Josh was provided an opportunity from New Zealand's High Performance Development Manager Vinny Munro. Given notice at Monday lunch time Josh was "stoked with the opportunity" of his inclusion to attend the tournament and to referee at this national event. 

Josh was appointed to the Southland U19 v Heartland XV U19 match that kicked off at 11.05 on Wednesday. In what was a tight contest throughout the 70minutes in drizzly difficult conditions for good running rugby. Josh refereed very well and looked right at home in the middle. 

Waikato were also well represented over the three match days down in Taupo. We had Ben Woolerton, Larissa Collingwood, Jake O' Flaherty, Ben Brownlie & Andrew Vercoe attend the event as as sub-controllers and help out run the line as Assisstant Referees. 


Waikato Referee Lee Jeffrey Retires from First Class Rugby

Lee JeffreySaturday 17th September saw the end of an era for one of Waikato's long serving First Class Referees. Lee Jeffrey refereed her final Farah Palmer Cup - Womens First Class match on Saturday down at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Lee was in control of the Otago v North Harbour women's game that was a curtain raiser for the Mitre10 Cup match. 

Lee has refereed 42 First Class matches in New Zealand - second women referee to achieve the milestone of 40+ First Class matches. 

Throughout Lee's career she has been appointed to two Women's NPC finals, both Auckland V Canterbury in 2009 & 2013. 

Lee will continue her refereeing in the Waikato in 2017 at club level, at a National level New Zealand are looking to take advantage for Lee's experience and will be utilising her as a TMO. 

Congratulations Lee on an amazing First Class refereeing career! 



Waikato Referees in Fiji for Deans Trophy Finals Day

This year Waikato had 4 referees selected to attend the Deans Trophy Finals day in Suva, Fiji. This is Fiji’s Secondary Schools Finals where teams have competed throughout the season against other schools across Fiji to play in what is a massive day of rugby.

Fiji Boys

New Zealand Rugby Referees were approached by Fiji Secondary School Rugby to provide a referee for the main U18 Final, Waikato’s Michael Winter was appointed to that fixture as a member NZ Referees Development Squad. Waikato were provided the opportunity to send over two Assistant Referee’s and a TMO alongside Michael. Damian Botherway, Aleni Feata & Aaron Paterson accompanied Michael over to Fiji for this historic occasion – the first finals refereed by international referees.

Our boys headed over on the Wednesday, travelling from Auckland to Nadi, then an internal flight over to Suva, arriving at their accommodation at 9.30pm. Thursday was spent travelling around and meeting key members from the Fijian Secondary School Rugby, with some time spent sightseeing around Suva. Friday it was arranged the our referees would go and meet the schools participating and have a chat about rugby in New Zealand, what referees are looking for during the match, and just a general chat to the local players. Friday lunch saw a press conference held at major sponsor Coca-Cola, where the U18 Captains attended, the Vice-President of the Secondary School Rugby Union and a sponsor representative from Coca-Cola and Michael attended his first press conference.

Saturday was game day, with games kicking off at 9am for the u14s, through to the main u18 final kicking off at 5.20pm. Earlier in the afternoon Waikato’s Damian Botherway controlled the U17 Final between Queen Victoria School and St Johns Cawaci, where the winner progresses to the Sanix World Rugby Youth Tournament hosted in Japan. QVS who currently do not have a school due to cyclone Winston were the winners in a close tight battle. The u18 final again saw Queen Victoria School, making their 5th final of the day, take on Marist Brothers High School in front of a sell-out ANZ Stadium Suva 20,000+ crowd. The match was tight throughout with the scores tied 18 all at the end of 70minutes. Five minutes of golden point followed with QVS kicking a penalty on full time to win 21-17.

In what was an amazing experience for all involved, Michael said it was “the most amazing atmosphere he has encountered as a referee, I could not hear the ARs or TMO on a couple occasions just due to the noise from the crowd”.

Moving forward Waikato Rugby Referees are looking to host a Fijian referee in 2017 during the Gwynne Shield week where we think it will be a great opportunity for one of their referees to gain some quality experience refereeing in New Zealand with some great coaching. 


Final Appointments Announced for 2016 Club Rugby

Finals appointments were announced at the annual Referee Awards Evening this year held at the Cambridge Cosmopolitan Club. Trying to do something different from previous years, Graham Bowen - convenor of referee appointments announced the 2016 club finals referees. This season will see a number of referees referee in their first final in the Waikato.

Finals appointments are listed below:

Premier Final - Michael Winter (Hamilton RRA)
Premier B Final - Lee Jeffrey (Hamilton RRA)
Division 1 - Top 6 - Paul Head (Hamilton RRA)
Division 1 - Bottom 6 - Thinus du Preez (Cambridge RRA)
Division 1B - Top 6 - Campbell Thomas (Hamilton RRA) 
Division 1B - Bottom 6 - Mike Gregan (North Waikato RRA) 
Division 2 - Top 6 - Dave Fryer 
Division 2 - Bottom 6 - John Hoyle (Hamilton RRA) 
Under 85kg - Andrew Vercoe (Hamilton RRA) 
Colts - Ben Woolerton (Hamilton RRA)
13th Grade - Ben Brownlie (Morrinsville/Matamata RRA)


2016 Waikato Referee Awards Evening

The Waikato Rugby Referees Association hosted their annual awards evening on Saturday 9th July out at the Cambridge Cosmopolitan Club. Heading into semi-finals and finals weekends the appointments officers announced those upcoming appointments followed by the major award winners (as listed below).

As part of our awards evening we acknowledge our members who had completed a significant amount of services to referees throughout their career. Recipients of these awards received their service award from New Zealand Rugby, recipients as per below:


Damian Botherway, Michael Robinson, Ryan Cox & Aaron Paterson


Peter Jones, Bill Heslop, Lee Jeffrey, Robin Hapi & Kevin Clarke


John Gould, Graham Bowen, Paul Jeffrey & Grant Cotterell


Frank Howard, Jonathon Brown, Brian Fisher, Frank Brownhill, John Willis & John Parker


Pat Lambert

Building from last year’s good turn out, we had 78 people attend our awards evening – an event we are looking to build on year to year.


Recipients of awards for 2016 are below:

Best First Year Referee – Greg New (Hamilton RRA)

Colin Gregan Memorial - Most Improved Referee – Jake O’Flaherty (Morrinsville/Matamata RRA)

President’s Award – Ryan Cox (Hamilton RRA)

Roy Gillies Memorial - Services to Refereeing – Kevin Clarke (Cambridge RRA)

AMI Insurance - Referee of the Year – Damian Botherway (North Waikato RRA)