Ref with the Rhinos is back after successful relaunch

In partnership with the RFL Match Officials and Referees Department, Leeds Rhinos Foundation relaunched the charity’s Ref with the Rhinos programme, invented to develop the next generation of Rugby League referees. The programme is aimed at those aged 12 to 18 and is based on 3 workshops, each one focusing on a different area of refereeing.

Workshop 1

This session was an introduction to the programme, providing the participants with an overall insight into how they can benefit from taking part and how it can positively impact their refereeing career. The topics of conversation included an overview of the programme, our aims, participant benefits and on completion of the course, where this could lead them on their journey.

The specific discussion points were as follows:


An opportunity for individuals to access free refereeing development workshops and to be involved in unique Leeds Rhinos events.


To develop and support the next generation of referees through continued training, providing an exclusive pathway through both the RFL and the Leeds Rhinos.

Participant Benefits

  • Match Officials RFL qualification
  • Leads to other National Accreditations
  • Invaluable work experience
  • CV builder
  • Social development opportunities
  • Valuable transferable employment skills
  • Opportunity to work with the Rhinos
  • Involvement in the professional sporting industry
  • Doing your bit to help the community
  • Continued CPD and workshops.

Where could it lead?

  • Become a valued member of your Community Club
  • Opportunity for paid work with the RFL’s referee society
  • Work opportunities within the community sport industry

The above points were then consolidated using real-life case studies, specifically Tom Grant, Liam Rush and Jack Broadbent. Tom Grant being a typical example of someone, who with hard work and determination, made his way up the refereeing ladder. Tom volunteered on many Leeds Rhinos programmes including indoor touch rugby tournaments, school festivals and helping out with half time teams at Headingley Stadium. Tom now officiates at the highest level in the Super League and for international fixtures as a Grade 1 Referee.

Liam Rush and Jack Broadbent both took part in an indoor touch rugby programme 10 years ago, in which they both took on refereeing roles. Shortly after, Liam was awarded with the Bill Barker Trophy for his efforts as Junior Referee of the Year and Jack, the Rex Milner Trophy, for being the Most Improved Referee of the Year. Since then, Liam Rush is now a full time, qualified referee and was the youngest to achieve this at the young age of 21. Jack Broadbent took a slightly different route in his career and is now a full time, professional player at Castleford Tigers.

These examples proved to our participants, in just the first session, that with determination and opportunities like the Ref with the Rhinos programme, they too can achieve their aspirations.

Workshop 2

The second workshop was delivered in the concourse at Headingley Stadium and was based on signals, field positioning, decisions at scrums and where to stand on the field. This workshop was delivered in a practical manner by Tom Grant, Grade 1 Referee for the Super League.

Workshop 3

This was the moderation session, delivered by Jayden Covell-Wood, Yorkshire Area Development Coordinator for Referees. Jayden presented game scenario videos to the group who were then required to analyse and explain how they themselves would deal with each one. This lead on to conversations regarding the rules of the game and pathways into being a referee.

In total, as a result of this programme, there are now 37 new, junior Match Officials in the Leeds area and beyond. The participants have been invited by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and the RFL to join a referees society local to them, as well as being invited by Sam Horner, the LRF Rugby League Development Officer, to a Leeds Rhinos game to put their learning into practice at half time. 7 of these have accepted and will be taking part at half time during the Leeds Rhinos VS Hull FC match on Friday 24th February. Due to the success of the relaunch, we hope that this programme can be rolled out again in Summer, and eventually on a yearly basis, to help increase the number of match officials for the community game!