Historic World Cup Weekend for Navy Referees

Roger Baileff first RNRURS Match Official at a Rugby World Cup
Roger Baileff with referee Jaco Peyper and the other three on field match officials plus the Television Official at the opening game of RWC2015 – England v Fiji
Paul Burton about to leave for Tonga v Georgia in RWC2015 official vehicle

Since the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 Navy Referees have refereed at World Rugby events in all the major rugby playing nations.  From Murrayfield to the Millennium Stadium, Brisbane to Buenos Aries and Durban to Dunedin the Royal Navy’s rugby group of referees, unique amongst the Services, have whistled the highest level games across the globe.  However until this weekend the show piece event, the Rugby World Cup, had been absent from the Society’s cv.

On Friday night former Chairman, Roger Baileff, become the first Navy Referee to officiate in a World Cup when he was part of the officiating team for the opening game, England v Fiji.  Less than 24 hours later, former Training Officer, Paul Burton was part of the officiating team at Kingsholm for Georgia’s victory against Tonga.  Both were appointed as ‘No 5’ with the responsibilities of managing the technical areas, replacements, substitutions, blood injury changes and any temporary changes whilst players undertake concussion protocols or sit out there time in the sin bin.

Both are now experienced Premiership Assistant Referees but have shared a common pathway with all the other referees, who have served Navy rugby so well over many years.  An entry level course, which is now undertaken in both Devonport and HMS Temeraire, followed by refereeing ships rugby, progressing through the Command level games and then on to a variety of Inter Service level matches.  This along with the important support of a civilian society provides the progression that can not only take you around the world but, in the case of Roger and Paul, get you the best view in the house at the World’s third biggest sporting event.  Food for thought when you are thinking how you wish to extend your involvement in the Game.

If you are interested in becoming a rugby referee then you can get further details by emailing the Society’s secretary WO1 Geoff Howells

Images courtesy of R Baileff & P Burton