Nathan Power has been a Member of the Sedgley Family since he was 9 and is thriving on the Player Pathway with Sale Sharks DPP. He currently plays Second Row for the Under 16s at Sedgley Park. However, in addition to his prowess as a player, Nathan is also a qualified referee with the Manchester and District Referees Society (MADREF). This piece on the RFU website tells his story.
You might think that refereeing begins in adulthood and often when players retire from the game but in England currently there are more than a thousand 14 to 18-year-olds who are qualified Young Match Officials, many of them showing huge potential.
Michael Patz, the RFU’s Match Official Development Manager says: “We run bespoke courses and have gained some very impressive young referees. They have mentors and chaperones who provide pitch-side support and normally they referee matches involving players two years younger. Then at 17 they can move on to start refereeing adults to develop their officiating.
“Whether they have ambition and potential to referee at the elite level or enjoy taking charge of a game and learning more about interpreting the laws and gaining confidence, communication skills and leadership, becoming a YMO brings life skills and opportunities.”
A real sense of enjoyment
Nathan Power is 16 and a member of the Manchester & District Referee Society. He plays second row for Sedgley Park U16s and two years ago decided to go on a refereeing course with Pietro Carinci, his PE teacher from Philips High School. It was actually Nathan who signed up first.
“When I was playing there were things I didn’t get, but my club coach Dan Nethercott is also a referee and I found that he was able to explain things really well, so I signed up for the course.
“I was officiating some games but, with covid, my refereeing on a week- in-week-out basis really took off this season. I love it, the feeling of taking control of a game from start to finish gives a big sense of enjoyment.
“When I was playing and not refereeing, I really didn’t understand why you got penalised but as a referee there’s a lot of interpretation of the laws and it makes you more of a thinker.
“The school players I ref have a really good attitude because of the way my mentor Jon Rooke has helped me to take control. The players respect me as a referee and often thank me for a good game which makes me feel both respected and appreciated.
“I would really like to take my refereeing all the way and officiate Premiership matches. Referees I’ve looked up to are Wayne Barnes and Luke Pearce and I was at the recent Sale Sharks game against Leicester Tigers. It was an amazing game, the best second half I’ve ever seen.
“What I was very impressed by was Craig Maxwell-Keys’ explanations as I listened on my ref radio. His explanations were phenomenal and meant even if he gave a decision against your team you knew why because you understood his reasoning when talking to the players.”