Behind the whistle: A spotlight on the FOSROC Super Series Sprint Referee Debutants

Behind the whistle: A spotlight on the FOSROC Super Series Sprint Referee Debutants

The FOSROC Super Series provides high-performance opportunities for both players, coaches and Match Officials alike, by exposing them to the part-time professional rugby environment.

The competition allows the Match Officials involved to develop as a team and be challenged in a high performance environment with the ultimate aim to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Sam Grove-White into professional rugby.

Rob McDowell, who made his FOSROC Super Series refereeing debut in Round One’s Watsonians v Southern Knights match, said:

“It was an excellent experience to be out in the middle. Running the line in last year’s Super6 Championship gave me both an appreciation and an understanding of the competition and I noticed the step up from what I had previously officiated in.

“Moving up from the National Leagues to the Super Series was a great opportunity for me to get a sense of a part-time professional tournament. There is a marked difference on game day with 4th and 5th officials and a timekeeper, who deal with substitutions etc. so that the people in the middle only need to focus on allowing the players to express themselves.”

Rob commented on how his involvement in the FOSROC Super Series Sprint has helped him develop as a Match Official:

“Having a part-time professional tournament in Scotland really helps Match Officials to get involved in the step up to a more professional rugby environment. Just like players and coaches, referees need experience in the big moments to develop and improve, and the Super Series rugby provides that.”

Rob McDowell making his FOSROC Super Series refereeing debut at the Watsonians v Southern Knights match. (Image credit: Graham Gaw)

Officiating in the FOSROC Super Series is part of the Performance Pathway for Match Officials to develop and it is providing an opportunity to a number of referees who have performed with distinction in the domestic competitions – with four officials making their debuts in this series alone.

Additionally, it forms a pathway for Match Officials to be challenged in a part-time professional environment in order to prepare them for the step up into URC/EPCR competitions.

When comparing the step up from domestic rugby to the part-time professional landscape, Rob said:

“As you progress through the leagues there is a greater expectation from players, coaches and spectators that you get the big decisions right which adds to the pressure to make sure that the service provided to the competition matches the level of the game.

“However, the quality and pace of the game helps you develop as a match official. The players know what they want to do and are organised in executing their plans and more games come down to the big moments.”

These comments were echoed by Sam O’Neil, who is also making the step up into a refereeing role in this year’s FOSROC Super Series Sprint. He said:

“There is a clear step up in the expectations set upon match officials by the High Performance Referee Management team in this competition.

“The speed of the game alone will drive a referee to be ahead of the game, anticipating the challenges within the breakdown or set piece, ahead of the events occurring. We want to add value to the game and provide a structure so that players and teams can play the game how they want to.”

Looking ahead to this weekend where Sam will make his debut in the middle in the Southern Knights v Ayrshire Bulls clash.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity, having been an assistant referee in the Super Series Sprint and URC already this season, being a referee in this tournament is the next natural progression for me as a match official and I can’t wait to get out there this weekend.”

Scottish Rugby High Performance Referee Manager, Andrew Macpherson, commented:

“The FOSROC Super Series is an invaluable competition to allow to us challenge and develop the next generation of Scottish Match Officials to be involved in professional rugby.

“The standards set by referees such as Sam Grove-White in URC are extremely high, and our job is to ensure that Scottish Rugby has a constant provision of Match Officials ready for that environment. To be able to give some match officials debuts in the Super Series Sprint is part of that and we are delighted to be able to support them on this journey.”

For more information on how to become involved in Match Officiating, click HERE.


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