Berkshire YMO Programme Update

Sunday 16th December saw players from Reading RFC U16s rugby team receive a special recognition from their match referee Ashley Rowden supported by Nicola McCombe Community Rugby Coach for Berkshire, following Reading RFC U16s game against Rams which Ashley officiated.

Ashley is known to many rugby enthusiasts around the country as well as Berkshire, as he started his refereeing career aged 13, now in his 46th year, having completed 22 years as a Premiership Rugby referee, with over 141 games under his belt (5th on all-time list ) and over 500 appointments in The Premiership as referee, assistant referee and No.4 official. He is now working as a volunteer at RAMS where he started all those years ago supporting his father as a touch judge (aged 7!).

He now carries out various duties such as water boy, kicking tee carrier plus technical consultant for the 1st XV – and in his words “General refereeing dogsbody for whoever needs help, if he has time”.

Ashley and Nicola took time to present the players with some kit they have been awarded for their efforts on the Berkshire Young Match Official programme. The programme launched in October 2018 with 42 participants completing their RFU Kids First Referee qualification, they have since gone out into the game at their clubs and schools, officiating a number of different fixtures for both boys and girls. This has been possible because of the support of the Berkshire Referee Society who have funded the training for the YMOs, and will provide a pathway for those who wish to join the Society when they are ready.

 “I think it is fantastic that these young people have the opportunity to develop refereeing skills and that they are putting them to use; no referee – no game!” – Ashley Rowden

The 4 boys pictured along with a further 3 qualified YMO girls spent the afternoon refereeing an U13 Girls Festival where they received great feedback from coaches, parents and players on their manner and skills.

 “The Berkshire YMOs have taken their new found knowledge and had a positive impact on the game in Berkshire, at times they have been the difference between games being played or not. They have increased the playing opportunities for youngsters in the game throughout the County and we are immensely proud of what they have achieved. There is huge potential shown from those in the programme and we (Berkshire Referees Society and RFU) will support them along their officiating journey.” Nicola McCombe, Community Rugby Coach Berkshire.



Nicola McCombe | Community Rugby Coach Berkshire | 07850 611057

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