North American Refs Get Test Appointments
Wednesday Apr 29, 2009 in Off the Field Laws
April 29, 2009 - The iRB mid-year referee appointments released today featured two North American Referees in Chris Draper (USA) and David Smortchevsky (CAN), with the pair traveling to Bucharest, Romania, this June to referee in the European Nations Cup.
Similar in level to the Churchill Cup, this year's European Nations Cup features Russia, Romania, Uruguay, Scotland A, Italy A, and France A. The first day of Nations Cup competition on 12 June will see Draper refereeing Scotland A v Russia and Smortchevsky refereeing Uruguay v Romania. On June 16 Smortchevsky will handle Italy A v Russia while Draper will referee Italy A v Romania on 21 June.
Before they head across to the Nations Cup, the pair will first be Assistant Referees for Matt Goddard (AUS) and Chris White (ENG), with Draper appointed to Canada v Wales in Toronto and Smortchevsky appointed to the USA v Ireland and Wales matches in Santa Clara, CA, and Chicago, IL, respectively.
Of the two, Smortschevsky is the more experienced internationally in 15-a-side rugby, with his latest test appointment being the Trinidad v Brazil World Cup Qualifier in Port of Spain, Trinidad, this past fall. For Draper, this is an opportunity to cross over to 15-a-side Test rugby following a successful tour on the iRB Sevens World Series.
"I am very excited and honored to be offered the opportunity to referee at the Nations Cup, and one I am extremely proud to share with Smortsy," says Draper. "I've learned a lot from Dave over the years, and it will be great to work with him during our time in Romania."
For young referees around the world, tournaments like the European Nations Cup are opportunities to prove their potential to iRB referee selectors. For referees from North American countries, where Heineken Cup and Super 14 are not domestic competitions, such appointments are invaluable.
"Running the line with Rob Debney for Matt Goddard is a tremendous learning experience in itself," says Draper. "To follow that up by refereeing two Nations Cup matches under the guidance of a former iRB World Cup referee in David McHugh of Ireland and Patrick Robin of France - it is a tremendous opportunity."
As with non-professional players, it is often a challenge for non-professional referees like Draper and Smortchevsky to balance their work with the travel required.
"Already this year I have had to be away from work for almost two months, and these appointments will require me to be away for just shy of another month. I am very fortunate to work for a company that understands the uniqueness of what Dave and I are doing," comments Draper. "It isn't just every day you get to represent your country."