New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the 2021 High Performance Referee Squad that will officiate all national competitions, including the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa season which kicked off last weekend.
NZR High Performance Referee Manager Bryce Lawrence said the men and women selected have been preparing themselves for what he expects to be one of the most aerobically challenging seasons to date.
“We’re really happy with how this year’s squad has shaped up and how the referees have been preparing for what we all expect to be a physically testing year.
“Rugby is always evolving, and judging by the early stages of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa, and the impact the new law innovations being trialled at that level, we are going to see quicker rugby than ever before in 2021.
“The referee squad have been training hard in pre-season with this in mind, really challenging themselves aerobically to make sure they are in the right shape to cover the yards on matchday.”
Sky Super Aotearoa’s trial law innovations have not been confirmed for other national competitions, but Lawrence said rugby was getting faster every year and referees were preparing themselves accordingly.
“The squad knocked out some record pre-season training times this year, with the best BRONCO fitness test time during pre-season coming in at four-minutes 20 seconds, which I daresay a lot of the players would be happy with.
“It was collectively verbalised last season that the first edition of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition and the intensity of all the national competitions were incredibly tough for the players and referees, and I expect that it’s going to be raised to another level again this year.
“The squad are prepared and ready for this and excited by the challenges ahead.”
Missing from the 2021 squad are four long-standing squad members in Richard Kelly (Taranaki), Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa Bush), James Munro (Canterbury) and Hugh Reed (Hawkes Bay), who have all blown the whistle on their careers.
The National Selectors have named 24 referee’s for this year’s squad and have chosen to keep up to five places free to be filled before national competitions kick off.
Lawrence congratulated those selected and thanked the recent retirees for their outstanding service to rugby.
“Rebecca has led the way for women’s refereeing in New Zealand and to be a Test referee as well as a Black Fern has been an amazing achievement. Richard has been the leading Sevens referee in the world for several years and his fitness, work ethic and skill has been widely recognized. James and Hugh have all refereed at National Provincial Championship level and have been great servants to the game. All four refs will be missed, and we thank them for their service to rugby.”
The full 2021 national High Performance Referee Squad is:
Paul Williams (Taranaki)
Ben O’Keeffe (Auckland)
Brendon Pickerill (North Harbour)
James Doleman (Otago)
Mike Fraser (Wellington)
Nick Briant (BOP)
Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Dan Waenga (Hawkes Bay)
Tipene Cottrell (Hawkes Bay)
Jono Bredin (Otago)
Angus Mabey (Auckland)
Brittany Andrew (Manawatu)
Tiana Ngawati (BOP)
Maggie Cogger-Orr (Auckland)
Lauren Jenner (Counties)
Larissa Collingwood (Waikato)
Mike Winter (Waikato)
Nick Hogan (Hawkes Bay)
Chris Paul (Sth Canterbury)
Daniel Moore (Canterbury)
George Haswell (Canterbury)
Stuart Curran (Manawatu)
Marcus Playle (Auckland)
Selica Winiata (Manawatu)