Ref with the Rhinos programme returns for 2024

In partnership with the RFL Match Officials and Referees Department and Leeds Rugby League Referee’s Society, Leeds Rhinos Foundation are delighted to announce that the charity’s Ref with the Rhinos programme is back, invented to develop the next generation of Rugby League referees.

The programme is aimed at those aged 14 to 18 and links to the newly formed Leeds Rhinos Foundation Match Officials Development Academy.

 Workshop 1

This session will be 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 will include 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 will be as follows:


An opportunity for individuals to access free refereeing development workshops and to be involved in unique Leeds Rhinos events, such as opportunities to officiate here at AMT Headingley Stadium.


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 have, in the past, been 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 on match days. 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 over 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.

Workshop 2

The second workshop will be delivered in the concourse at AMT Headingley Stadium and will be based on signals, field positioning, decisions at scrums and where to stand on the field. This workshop will be delivered in a practical manner by Ryan Cox, Match Officials Appointments and Development Officer at the RFL.

Sam Horner, Community and Rugby League Development Officer here at the Foundation, commented on the programme: “We are so pleased to announce that the Ref with the Rhinos programme is running again this Year. We are also launching the Referee’s Academy, a scheme that will enable newly qualified referees to have continued professional development after attending Ref with the Rhinos.

We offer chances for the education and growth of young individuals, encouraging their involvement in Rugby League. This involvement extends beyond playing, encompassing roles in officiating as well.

We look forward to engaging with the young referees and nurturing them for the future of our game. Safeguarding for us is high on our agenda, and with the RFL and Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s new Respect campaign launching soon, we want this to be a focus for all newly qualified referees and for them to know they have the support they deserve.”

Ryan Cox, Match Officials Appointments and Development Officer at the RFL, also commented: “We value the work Leeds Rhinos Foundation are doing to increase participation in officiating roles.

“It is important that young referees are brought into the game and are well looked after so they can gradually be integrated into the game and feel valued whilst doing so. The partnering scheme is a fantastic idea and will result in much needed recruitment and increase in participation.

“We look forward to delivery of this year’s programme.”

To sign up to the Ref with the Rhinos programme, please CLICK HERE, or for more information, email