Rush brothers in poignant day – but player and referee roles could have been reversed

SUNDAY’S pre-season game between Dewsbury and Huddersfield was a unique – and poignant – day for Liam and Kieran Rush – although their roles could have been reversed.

Liam, the youngest of the RFL’s full-time match officials at 23, took charge of the game, which included 21-year-old Jamaican international brother Kieran in the Giants team.

While such a family connection would usually be prohibited, a special case was made to give their terminally ill mother, Louise, a chance to watch her sons make history.

“The idea came from a friend of my dad’s who has known me and Kieran since we were babies,” explained Liam.

“He emailed Huddersfield asking if they could make it happen, and after that the credit goes to the clubs – Huddersfield and Dewsbury – and also Rob Hicks at the RFL and Dave Elliott in the match officials department. We’re so grateful to them all.”

Both brothers were keen players at Batley Boys growing up, but both were also given the chance to blow the whistle when the community club put them – and other youngsters including current Castleford star Jack Broadbent – through a refereeing course.

Only at 16 did Liam put his full focus on officiating, while Kieran gave it up to pursue a playing career at Huddersfield.

“I played and reffed (simultaneously) from when I was 13, and then when I got to 16 I missed the boat by not getting picked up for scholarship. I decided to stick with reffing because it was going pretty well,” Liam told League Express.

“A lot of the initial motivation at that age was probably a bit of extra pocket money. But then there was a realisation that although I’ve not been picked up playing, I could make a career out of reffing. I stuck at it, worked hard and got to this stage.

“(Kieran) was the same. He reffed and played for a few years like me. Once he got to scholarship at Huddersfield, he stopped reffing because of the pressures of training and playing there.”