Jackson Reuben-Swinton never thought he'd be plying his trade on the international stage.

After taking up touch refereeing following a rugby injury while living in Dunedin, he has trodden a path to officiate at the 2018 Youth Touch World Cup that started in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"There are nine referees from the whole country," he said.

"There are probably 250 to 300 referees and to be narrowed down from that is quite an achievement. I was surprised when I got the letter because there are so many good referees out there — but somebody has given me a chance."


Jackson spoke to the Te Puke Times before he left.

"Just talking about it gives me butterflies," he said.

"But my wife said 'when you get into it, shut the crowd out and you go about your work, you'll come right'."

After hanging up his rugby boots, Jackson started refereeing rugby and touch on a more regular basis. He says the rules of touch have far fewer technicalities.

"But it's super fast — in terms of concentration, you've got to call something really quickly."

When he first started refereeing touch in the Bay of Plenty, he set himself the goal of becoming the number 1 referee.

"I haven't quite reached that, but I don't think about getting to number 1 now — it's more about being the best referee I can be."

Jackson has this season taken on the role of Te Puke High School first XV coach, and being overseas means he will miss the team's semi-final this weekend.

"I'm passionate about the team, but also about family and personal development so this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down."

Jackson has had sponsorship for his trip from Maketū Rotary Club, Kiwicoast Lions in Te Puke and Ngā Kakano Foundation.