Flags and Whistles – March 2019

St Helens Rugby League Referees Society Newsletter – Edition 34

Phil Clarke Joins St Helens RLRS

Former International Rugby League star and Sky Sports pundit, Phil Clarke, has joined St Helens RLRS as an honorary member in his bid to understand and support Rugby League Match Officials. 

Our newest member Phil Clarke (left) poses with Society colleague Innes Arnold (right).

“Rugby League needs new Referees, let’s find them together! The importance of referees and the work of Societies like St Helens is crucial to securing the future of our sport.”

Phil Clarke

Phil was pleased, this month, to be offered honorary membership by St Helens RLRS which he accepted with open arms, excited to get involved with the society to help boost our objectives to recruit, develop, mentor, and retain referees for the benefit of all levels of rugby league. 

“It is vital for the future of the Sport to find and encourage new officials. Whether men or women, boys or girls, whether former players or those who wanted to play but never got a chance: all followers of the game can consider having a go with a whistle or a flag.”

Phil Clarke

The former GB captain and team manager accepted an invitation to speak at a society meeting back in November and experienced something unexpected.

“I went along to share a few funny stories and anecdotes about my career involved in many aspects of rugby league, but I came away having learned much more. In a whole lifetime in the sport, I was amazed that I had not engaged with many match officials or noticed just how passionate about the game and hardworking they are. 

We all know the saying that without a referee we would have no game to enjoy, yet fans, players and coaches are quick to criticise their work. Despite having flack thrown at them from all quarters, they love the game. Like players, they work so hard at fitness, positioning, communication and teamwork, and how to stay calm enough to manage conflicting interests under pressure.”

Phil Clarke
Meeting with Phil Clarke as Guest Speaker
Phil posing with members for a team photo taken when he gave a talk at the November General Meeting in 2018.

Challenge Cup Round 3 Appointments

With great success in round 1 and 2 of the Coral Challenge Cup, many of our members were again appointed to Round 3 of the historic competition. The appointments were as follows:

  • Wigan St Judes v Lock Lane – Craig Smith (Referee), Innes Arnold (TJ) & Denton Arnold (Reserve Referee)
  • Thatto Heath Crusaders v Rochdale Mayfield *Shown Live on BBC Sport* – Mackenzie Maddison (Reserve Referee)
  • Whitehaven RLFC v Wigan St Patricks – Jamie Barr (TJ)
Craig (Ref), Innes (TJ) and Denton (Res. Ref) warm up at Wigan St Judes ahead of the Challenge Cup clash against Lock Lane | Photo by Kings Pix

Congratulations to all members on their appointments!

Innes Arnold stars on live radio

11th March saw Innes Arnold be invited to star on ‘WA12 Rugby League Show’. Innes went along and spoke about his initial meeting with Phil Clarke, which leads to him to inviting Phil to join St Helens RLRS. The conversation then led to shortage of match officials across the country and how the appointments are made each week. It was an eye-opener for the chat show hosts on how we, as match officials operate week in, week out.

You can listen to Innes on the link below:

Innes’ interview commences in the second segment of the show (1hr in).

Thank you to ‘WA12 Rugby League’ for their invitation onto the show and their ongoing support on social media!

Zoe Brown referees her first game

Having joined the society in the off-season, it was time for Zoe Brown to referee her first ever game. For her first game, Zoe was appointed to Clock Face Miners Under 10s VS Pilkington Recs Under 10s. Zoe had this to say about her first appointment:

Clockface played Pilks Recs under 9s. I felt nervous at the start but then started to enjoy the game! I was amazed by the support from the coaches and Chris Hardman who came. The kids were a credit to their clubs and played great!

Zoe Brown
Zoe Brown poses for a picture ahead of her first game as a Referee.

Society’s secretary/treasurer Chris Hardman also went down to watch Zoe, this is a tradition the society has held with every new official.

Meet Your Referees – Craig Smith

Craig Smith


Years Officiating

Highest Levels officiated;
League One (Referee)
Super League & Four Nations International (Touch Judge)

Craig Smith Refereeing at West Wales Raiders in League One.

Best Moment of your career?

‘Best moment of my career is hard to say really I have a couple. It would probably have to be between either Touch Judging my super league debut in Catalans or Touch Judging my International debut France vs Scotland.’

Funniest Moment of your career?

‘Funniest moment of my career probably was the U19s European Championships in Serbia last summer. Had a great laugh with great people for 10 days.’

What would you say to a young aspiring MO?

‘The thing I would say to a young ref is there are so many opportunities in reffing at the moment to officiate literally all over the world. You don’t need to aim to referee Super League in one year, learn your trade and enjoy your rugby at each level of progression. Your rewards will come at the end of it.’

Craig Smith

‘Teammates’ with Brian Cummings

Brian Cummings (left) presenting Tolver Arnold (right) with the Society Young Match Official of the year award in December 2018.

Who is the Smartest member of our Society?
‘Innes Arnold. He is always smartly dressed, even in training, and gives a great impression of our Society.’
Who has the best whistle in the Society?
‘From the beginning of his refereeing career, Denton Arnold’s use of the whistle has always been excellent although there have been games when I have thought he was trying to blow the pea out of it.’
Who is the biggest moaner in the Society?
‘No contest Stuart Fraser… but what do you expect from a southerner.’
Who is the loudest member of the Society?
‘Adam Jackson probably so we can hear him over Stuarts moaning. Also, his mouth is so big it’s easy to throw things into.’
Who is the quietest member of the Society?
‘At the moment Zoe Brown. But as she is a woman and a teacher I don’t expect it to last! Sorry, Zoe.’
Who has the best taste of music in the Society?
‘Chris Hardman. He is the only one I know has a similar taste in music as me.’
Who has the worst taste of music in the Society?
Everyone one of you that likes this so-called music called talking Rubbish, sorry “Rapping”.’
Which member of the Society is the best on a night out?
‘My two friends I grew up with we have spent many a night drinking and acting like idiots. I suppose the nearest member to them I have been out with is Jamie Barr and closely followed by Adam Jackson.’

Brian Cummings

Development Meeting Update

On Tuesday 19th March, members gathered at Blackbrook Rugby Club for this months meeting. This month focused on altercations on a rugby pitch. Clips were shown of numerous scenarios and members had to dissect the good points and development points from each. Following this, we moved on to what positions would be best in each scenario both as a Referee and a Touch Judge.

Thanks to Brian Cummings for running the meeting, also thanks for Shaun Pickering for organising the clips.

Important Upcoming Dates

General Meeting – Tuesday 4th April 2019
Development Meeting – Tuesday 16th April 2019

Future Editions

Please send all future stories to Ryan Cox so these can be added to newsletters.
Please send all notable appointments to Denton Arnold so these can be added to the honours list.