Colts League Referee Association (CLRA)...
The NW Colts League Referees Association (CLRA) was originally formed in 2007 to underpin and support the work of the Local Referees’ Societies in appointing independent Referees to Colts League matches.
Emulating Senior rugby the NW Colts League was established in 1999 when Frank Morgan's Lancashire Colts Committee identified a possible solution to their concerns with the loss of Colts players to the game.
Having identified the enthusiasm Youth Players have for competitive games such as the County Cup the concept of structured leagues would give Colts players a tangible goal to focus on.
The added benefit to the Clubs has been an increase in Player Recruitment Development and Retention subsequently leading to the introduction of more Colts Players to the Senior Game.
Supported by the RFU + Lancashire RFU and Cheshire RFU since inception the Colts League has gone from strength to strength, with the 50 teams of the inaugural season numbering just short of 100 in it's peak season.
More than 2500 young men are now playing Colts League rugby on a regular basis each weekend.
Independant Referees play an Important Role:
Having introduced the competitive element League Organisers were concerned matches should be refereed by an Independent Official, and from the outset the League courted and has enjoyed the support of the Manchester (M&D) and Liverpool (L&D) Referees’ Societies, plus our boardering Societies in Cumbria and Staffs.
Initial Referee Shortages:
The successes of the Colts League was not mirrored by a corresponding increase in Referee numbers. At the start of the 2007/2008 season M&D advised the League they were unable to cover all Colts League games in their district.
Faced with this shortfall the Colts League Committee formed the CLRA and undertook the task of finding the Referees, initially to cover 10 to 12 games per weekend.
Surmising that Referees were not going to be found outside the game CLRA Organisers started networking within member Clubs.
Traditional Club Referees were enticed to accept local appointments away from their own Club in return for a referee appointed to cover their game.
Further recruits included ex-Society members who were tempted with the quality and level of Colts matches, plus the benefit of a ‘local’ game.
Additional networking even enabled the CLRA to recruit recent ELRA attendees, and they were even able to persuade the odd retired Colts Team Manager or ex-Colts Players to attend an ELRA Course and take up the whistle.
Successes of the CLRA:
In successive seasons the CLRA successfully recruited 15, 18, and 21 active members; with upwards of 12 CLRA Referees ultimately joining M&D.
Colts League Rugby again proved a fruitful area for recruitment and development within the game - this time for Referees...
Co-Operation with the Society:
The CLRA’s close working relationship with the M&D and L&D Societies has been to their mutual benefit. Alongside L&D the CLRA initially pioneered the use of the RFU’s Referee Appointments System on Rugby First, allowing Teams to see their appointed Referee.
Continuing to Recruit:
The CLRA continues to recruit; New Referees will always be needed by the game in general, and for Colts League matches in particular.
Colts Matches, whether League or Cup games, provide an outstanding standard of rugby and an excellent stepping stone where Referees can to develop their craft.
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