Steve Ganson, the RFL’s Head of Match Officials, has welcomed the decision to reintroduce a structured Reserve Grade competition in 2020.
The decision was jointly announced by the RFL and Super League Europe earlier this week, with the RFL’s Interim Chief On-Field Officer Dave Rotheram explaining: “The majority view is that the game would benefit from the reintroduction of a Reserve Grade competition, primarily as a next step in the development of players between Academy and senior rugby, but also to provide regular rugby for players on the fringe of selection, returning from injury, and a platform for later developers.”
Ganson believes there will be an equally positive effect for his match officials.
“It’s massive, for the same reasons as the players,” he explained. “It can be a huge jump from Academy rugby to the senior game, so having a structured Reserve Grade competition will be really helpful in the steady development of our officials.
“I’m old enough to have come through when the old Alliance competition was running – that could mean tough games, with some tough nuts. You’d also get some big games – for Wigan v Saints there might be a couple of thousand watching, and that all adds to the pressure on you as an official, and makes it better preparation for the top level.
“There will be challenges, but we’ve been able to announce some really positive figures recently in terms of the number of match officials, and this will provide more opportunities. We’re all working together to make our game the best it can be – I hope that message is coming through with the RFL’s Enjoy the Game messaging, as we see the vast majority of our supporters recognising the important part played by match officials at all levels of the game.”