New Match Officials roles appointed in Wales

Wales Rugby League have appointed James Jones as their new Head of Match Officials, whilst Rob Apsee has been appointed as the new WRL Match Officials Appointments Officer.

Jones, 41, has been Wales’ leading match official for a number of years after transferring over from rugby union in 2013.

Once the second choice referee to Nigel Owens in Wales, his rugby union career saw him refereeing games in the European Cups, French Top 14, Pro12 and English Premiership, as well as games in the Welsh Premiership, British and Irish Cup and WRU National Cup. He also refereed in the World Sevens and was considered to referee the 2009 Sevens World Cup Final, had Wales not been one of the teams in the game.

Since coming over to rugby league, he has refereed at League 1, been a match official in Super League and has refereed community international matches.

But now his primary focus is to drive match official recruitment and training, and to set up a support and coaching structure for new and existing match officials in Wales. He starts this weekend with a match officials course in Cardiff.

Jones said: “My plan is to develop a clear pathway through Wales Rugby League ranks, which includes progression onto the RFL list of graded referees. I’ll be working closely with Rob Apsee in setting up constructive dialogue between clubs in Wales and our active match officials.

“I am excited by the vision ahead, and as our leading match official in Wales it is important to pass on the knowledge and development I receive from the RFL to assist driving the standards within Wales forward.

“In addition to focusing on match officials, I aim to further educate our coaching team at all levels of the game in their knowledge of the laws of the game and the importance of understanding a referee’s approach to the game.”

Apsee, 39, started playing rugby union when in the Royal Navy. He was a junior rugby union match official for about seven years, only really getting involved so his son Mason could play the game as there was a shortage of match officials in Wales, and he enjoyed doing this role. When his son signed for rugby league club Aber Valley Wolves, Apsee also transferred and last year became a qualified rugby league referee.

His new role will involve him appointing match officials to all competitions as directed by Wales Rugby League, ensure that WRL database, in association with data partners Sporting Records Online Ltd, has an accurate record of registered match officials, liaise with match officials to ensure that all are registered and appropriately graded, and with clubs, contacts and match officials to discuss anything that may be required.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed refereeing rugby league in Wales since starting last year. I was honoured to have been asked to do the first ever women’s rugby league game in Wales between Cardiff Blue Dragons and Rhondda Outlaws which was a really enjoyable occasion.

“I am delighted to be appointed as the new Match Officials Appointment Officer and look forward to working with both clubs and match officials to support the fantastic work that has been going on in Wales Rugby League. Going forward, I would like to get more match officials involved in our ever growing game in Wales, and support them and our clubs as needed to achieve and maintain a high level.”

Wales Rugby League’s CEO Gareth Kear said: “Wales Rugby League are committed to attaining the highest standards possible for our match officials and the community game. This will include a new match official’s Centre of Excellence, working closely with Ben Thaler and Liam Moore from Super League and the RFL, and continued professional development (CPD). All WRL match officials will receive all the standard kit and equipment as a basic standard.”

There are still spaces left on the match officials course in Cardiff this Sunday. To apply, go to