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                            Announcing the “Kick Off RDP”
   USA Rugby Grant Monies, and the KOT, will be used to help attract/develop new refs
           for the youth and high school game across Northern California

Today, across Northern California, an explosion of participation in the game of rugby, both at the
youth and high school level, is ongoing. The game will continue to expand, so long as it remains
supplied with good coaches and fun matches... but unless something changes, the coaches will
have to ref.... a lot. There are not enough refs now, and the pool is growing older.

The game would benefit greatly if we develop a pool of young, eager refs, plain and simple. This
can and will happen, but not without the concerted efforts of many. With this in mind, I drafted a
grant request over the summer, which if approved, would allow us to use the Sacramento Valley’s
Kick Off Tournament (KOT) as the primary vehicle to build a program around.

Referee Development Program approved
USA Rugby Referee boss Ed Todd has just approved this grant request for referee development,
focusing young refs, handling youth and high school games, with the following features:

    1. Up to 16 refs will receive $25 per match, for up to 10 matches (up to 160 matches in total
       will be supported).
    2. USAR will waive Level 1 ref class fees, and supply whistle and cards.
    3. Further support will go towards ref mentors/coaches for 64 of those matches, also at $25
       per match. Perhaps we'll have 16 mentors step up and handle 4 matches each.

A basic goal of the Program is to get each new ref watched at least 4 times in 10 games. The
intention is to recruit referee candidates, and do our very best to train and develop them. The
Program will set them up for a successful season, and continue to monitor and develop further
throughout the season.

USA Rugby is supporting several different initiatives in an effort to find the best method of
recruiting new referees. If we can make this a success, here in the NCRFU in 2009, the program
will probably be continued locally, and expanded Nationally.

Now for the extra good news: I've just confirmed with Ray Thompson, General Manager of the
Sacramento Valley High School Rugby Conference (SVHSRC), the Conference will match these
funds, for all games the new refs (and mentors) handle at the level of Junior High up through
Varsity U19! The refs could handle NCRFU League matches as their skills advance. Matching
funds from the SVHSRC, however, would not be available for those matches.

Yes, new refs, and their mentors, will have to put in the time and hard work, but will be able to
collect $50 per match, at the completion of the commitment. That is up to $500 per new ref! If
we can arrange to mail out checks monthly, all the better. In the end, a whole lotta rugby will
enjoy an infusion of new refs with growing skills, if we can recruit, develop and retain the
right candidates!

A Level 1 ref class can be scheduled (probably January, date and location TBD).
Presumably USAR will also pay for a Level 1 ref coach class, if we have the numbers to justify
running another such class.

Kick Off RDP weekend
The KOT (Feb 6-8, 2009) will serve as the central development vehicle to get this program fully
up and running. For better or worse, let's call this the Kick Off RDP (ref development program).
With success, the program can be repeated yearly.

Each RDP candidate will have to attend all three days of the KOT. Arrive in Sacramento for lunch
Friday where a classroom session will be held Friday afternoon. Cal will then play an exhibition
match Friday night vs. U. of Calgary, plus overnight stay for all, both Friday and Saturday, and all
meals and kit will be included. Funds for these items will be covered by a generous pledge to
support our efforts from the NCRRS.

Don Whidden, an IRB Referee Development pro from Rugby Canada, will be one of the
instructors at the Friday class, and be active coaching young refs at the KOT! Hopefully all of our
program mentors can attend this class, but certainly at least the KOT. We will also invite a
number of out-of-area C1 and B refs to attend and ref at the KOT (Jon Moore, Dan Hattrup, etc.).
Again, overnight stay and all meals will be included. One feature will be a Referee Banquet
Saturday evening with Number 1s required.

At the KOT, Program refs will be immersed in a professional, educational environment,
surrounded by wonderful role models and mentors.

Kick Off RDP: candidates sought (mentors and coordinators too)
The "target audience" in recruiting candidates for the Kick Off RDP are young men or women,
under 30, hopefully under 25, with rugby experience, and living in Northern California. A flexible
schedule would be a must. The candidate should be fit and ready to work hard at learning to
become a successful rugby referee.

Eagle Louis Stanfill is just one example of perhaps 100s of young athletes in Northern
California to have played rugby up to 8 years (4 in high school, 4 in college), have been well
coached along the way, and yet are still under 23! Some of these young players, for whatever
reason, are looking to step away from the commitment of training and playing. Reasons might
range from career ending injuries, to the challenging time requirements of graduate school, a new
job, and/or marriage. If presented properly, these same fit, young, rugby enthusiasts will jump at
this opportunity to stay involved and contribute to the game.

I call on all NCRFU High School Conference Commissioners to spread this word. All U19
coaches and program directors should be called upon to think about what their alumni are
doing now that they’ve graduated college. College students, grad students, and recent
graduates would be welcome.

At the KOT, we’ll have room for Kick Off RDP Candidates from the Bay, Skyhawk and Redwood
Empire Conferences, but only if each Conference has mentors lined up and willing to support
their local candidate’s development. Each local conference (or duly appointed representative) will
need to play a role in tracking recruiting, mentoring and the scheduling of refs/mentors for
matches. Call this a Local Area RDP coordinator. The SVHSRC challenges our other
Conferences to match funds as outlined above.

I will serve in the role of Local Area RDP administrator in Sacramento, with much help no doubt
from SVHSRC GM Ray Thompson. The NCRRS is presently looking into creating a mechanism
for disbursing the funds and tracking progress, and may well appoint a project officer to oversee
the entire Kick Off RDP. USA Rugby is looking into supplying kit for all program refs.

Motivated candidates will enjoy a well-structured beginning of a life’s journey
The sixteen slots open in the Kick Off RDP will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis in this
first year. It is important, however, that we not just fill slots, but nominate/select motivated young
athletes who want to give refereeing rugby a real chance.

Inevitably there will be some attrition, but perhaps we’ll be able to measure the Program’s
success in seeing half of our first year candidates still actively refereeing in the second year, and
each at a C3 level or greater. They will then do so without the financial support of this program,
however, as RDP graduates ‘matriculate’ into the larger NCRRS (, other
greater opportunities for referee development and advancement will become available.

As the youth and high school game continues to grow, hopefully from Stockton to Fresno, up
around Reno, and infilling throughout the Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley, this initiative can
continue to bear fruit.

Ray Schwartz
Kick Off Tournament Director
Kick Off RDP grant proposal author, and Sacramento administrator

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