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US Ref Draper Makes 7s Series Assignments

Wednesday Sep 10, 2008 in Off the Field Laws

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September 10, 2008 - The International Rugby Board has confirmed the selection of match officials for the eight tournaments that comprise the record-breaking IRB Sevens World Series, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this season.

The Series, which kicks off in Dubai on November 28-29, has played a major part in the development of up and coming international referees over the past decade and 14 Unions are represented within a 22-strong referee panel for the 2008/09 season.

Among those selected is Texas-based referee and ERugbyNews columnist Chris Draper. Draper will officiate in three tournaments this season – the USA 7s in San Diego, the Hong Kong 7s and the Adelaide 7s.

These appointments will follow on the heels of the North American West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA) Sevens World Cup Qualifier in the Bahamas on Oct 25-26 where he and Dana Teagarden will be representing USA Rugby.

"This is a very exiting opportunity," says Draper.  "USA Rugby and its Referee Department of Ed Todd, Paddy McNally, Richard Every, and Jen Grey has worked closely with the USA R&L Committee, formerly headed by John McConnell and now Bruce Carter, to improve our national referee programs and processes.  The appointment of an American referee like myself to this tournament is in no small part due to the efforts of these groups."

“The IRB Sevens World Series is a pivotal platform for the ongoing development of aspiring international match officials. Not only is it an arena where these individuals can cut their teeth on the big stage, but it also allows for considerable Game development support in terms of skills, technique and fitness. In conjunction with the IRB Age Grade tournaments, the IRB Sevens World Series provides an important finishing school role,” said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien.

“The Series has a proven record of unearthing future Test standard match officials and all 12 of the referees selected for Rugby World Cup 2007 had refereed at an IRB Sevens World Series tournament, while the majority of the officials on the circuit today have graduated through the Series.

“Last year James Bolabiu (Fiji) refereed the Hong Kong Sevens final and has since progressed to take charge of his first Test, while Ireland’s Peter Fitzgibbon, a Series regular, will referee his first Test matches in November. This year’s panel will be looking to follow in their footsteps,” added O’Brien.

From the pool of 22 referees a panel of eight has been selected for each Series tournament with locally-based assistant referees selected by the Host Union providing support to the panel. Former New Zealand Referee Manager Keith Lawrence will manage the referees at all eight Series tournaments.

“Keith’s experience will be invaluable,” said O’Brien. “Having a dedicated Sevens referee manager present at all eight tournaments will promote consistency, and ensure that a process is in place to assess performances, maintain feedback and manage the development of these up and coming match officials.”

The selection of the panel of referees for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai on March 5-7, the first RWC Sevens to feature a women’s tournament running alongside the men’s competition, will be announced shortly.

At the age of 28, Draper is the youngest USA Rugby referee ever appointed by the iRB to a tournament of this stature.  Born in Michigan, Draper started playing rugby for Des Moines RFC of Des Moines, Iowa, before attending Cal where he was a Varsity Letterman on four National Championship teams.  Draper played Club rugby for the Olympic Club, where he is still a member, and Washington RFC of Washington, DC, before taking on the Head Coaching role at the George Washington University and refereeing in the Potomac Rugby Referee Society.  When he moved to Glasgow, Scotland, Draper began refereeing full time for the West of Scotland Rugby Referee Society and represented the Scottish Rugby Union after his selection to the SRU National Referee Panel in 2005.  Upon returning to the United States in the fall of 2006 and joining the Society of Texas Rugby Referees, Draper was selected as a match official to the USA Sevens in 2007 and officiated his first age-grade Test as a USA Rugby referee between USA and Canada on February 18, 2007, in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Countless individuals have played significant rolls in my rugby career, and I hope they count these appointments amongst their own successes," says Draper.  "I look forward to proudly representing our country and hope these opportunities will become another step towards elevating our international standing."


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