Five match officials from across Europe joined the Rugby Football League’s full time match officials department, together with Australian Gerard Sutton ( who refereed two of the Tests between England and New Zealand), spending time experiencing a high-class performance environment.
Ben Casty (France), Quentin Boissonnade (France), Guido Bonatti (Italy), Andrew Pilkington (Spain) and Jaroslav Bzoch (Czech Republic) were selected by the RLEF after excelling in domestic competitions, progressing through the RLEF’s education programme, and because of their performances at this summer’s U19 European Championship in Belgrade.
The opportunity, which saw the officials engage in comprehensive physical training as well as preview sessions, was the climax of the part EU finded Training & Education Portal programme. “It’s fantastic to see the progress made by this group, although they are representative of many across the continent,” said RLEF MO tutor Phil Smith. “The funding allowed them to mix with their colleagues from the elite level of the game, providing an invaluable, quality learning environment.
“It is a fitting reward for their time and effort over the last three years which has included classroom education and residential camps. Everyone associated with the project is a volunteer, and they have all had to juggle their lives around work commitments and also use up their holidays to enable them to develop and advance in the sport they love.
“They now have a greater understanding of what is required, a clear pathway through the game, and a target of RLWC2021.”
Guido Bonatti commented: “It was a great opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best officials. To work with the RFL, NRL and other Europeans was a wonderful experience and chance to improve my own performance.”
The TEP was a three-year, €723.000 investment into capacity building through good governance and technical training, funded by €466.000 from the EU’s Erasmus+ project and the remainder from the RLIF and five of its full members. It has built the knowledge and skills of the RLEF’s 21 European members, divided into six regional clusters, through high quality training and mentoring, while granting opportunities to share experiences amongst fellow Europeans dedicated to rugby league development.