Rugby: Amon's hooked on whistle blowing

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union's first ever referee of the month, Amon Rimene, is a young man of contradiction.

He is young, but experienced - the 18-year-old has already controlled almost 200 matches since taking up the whistle four years ago.

He is an authority figure with whistle in hand - but only ended up there due to his own run-ins with those in control.

"I started because I was getting into a little bit of trouble at home and at school and the Bay of Plenty rugby development officer Kane Hames told me to jump in and ref a game," said Rimene.

"I refereed half an under-13 game and I was hooked. Then the 'You Make the Call' programme came in to schools so I got involved with that.

"With the course there have been heaps of people applying to ref now, which is good - we definitely need heaps."

Rimene has found that throwing himself into what some consider to be the hardest job in sports has opened up plenty of doors.

"I enjoy meeting new people - like going to Auckland to get a different taste of rugby - and getting to have a look at all the talent that is out there while I'm reffing."

He rates his first representative appointment - an under-16 match between Bay of Plenty and Waikato - as one of his refereeing highlights, along with controlling a game between the New Zealand Sevens team and the Cook Islands a couple of months ago. The year 13 prefect of kaupapa Maori at Mount Maunganui College, who refereed a staggering 206 games of touch rugby last season alone, said officiating matches between older players has become easier with time, despite the combatants not always knowing the letter of the law.

"I just treat them like everyone else. I'm quite well known around here so they respect me. They know I'm a ref and I've got a job to do, they've got a job to do, so they just play their game.

"Sometimes you make a call and it's in the rule book but they're not sort of getting into the new rules. It's difficult, but they just joke about it sometimes."

Rimene aspires to become an international referee and has a solid support network around him at the provincial union, led by referee manager Paul Greenstreet.

"I've got good coaches who always help me out so I will just listen to them, keep chugging away and one day I'll get there.

"I just encourage people to get involved with refereeing. Rugby is a good sport and it can take you a long way."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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