NSB Y12 student becomes RFU Young Match Official 2018
Queueing up for some lunch, Dominic Shaw was tapped on the shoulder and told to make sure he went to rugby trials that week after school. He did, not knowing much about the game, the strangely shaped ball or even how many players were supposed to be on a team. That month he started at Tight-head prop and ended up playing the whole season. A strange and somewhat abrupt start to what is now an integral part of his weekly commitments.
Following on from school rugby, where he continued at the front of the pack, he joined Wellingborough Rugby Football Club, who not only had a surfeit of props, but also three other players named Dominic! And so his alter-ego (Shawsy) was born, the deceptively fast number 8 with a pick-and-go which drove 53 tries that season over the line. Although he moved back to the front row the next year, he’s played in a variety of positions for Club, getting to know how the pack works in different set and open play. He also met a variety of referees – old school and more modern – and learnt how they handled the game and incidents on the pitch.
Refereeing opportunities came firstly through the House system at Northampton School for Boys, where he volunteered to officiate the lower years after school. He also booked himself on an RFU Level 2 course over a couple of weekends, and started to build on the opportunities which serendipitously came along: a cancelled match here meaning he could ref another game where someone was needed; a younger brother just starting the game so, a chance to learn the different regulations for the younger age group games. He’s also enjoyed a 3 week tour to New Zealand and Australia where he met another type of ref entirely!
Another refereeing opportunity came through Touch rugby, which he started to play in the off-season to improve his fitness. There’s a large number of Touch players who also referee and Dom quickly took up opportunities to pass Level 1 and then became the first person in Northampton to be awarded his Level 2 qualification, finding himself in the middle of the pitch, whistle in hand, at the Cambridge Nationals. In April, he’ll be refereeing at the England High Performance Camp in Leicestershire.
As part of the Young Ambassador Scheme, he logs coaching and refereeing hours each week for both Touch and Rugby. It’s a skill he intends to continue through University where, when he isn’t playing, he can help run the line, or take centre stage. Next on the cards is the end of the season with the East Midlands team, before a short break on Saturdays and Sundays when Rugby takes a back seat until autumn. But, Touch comes in to its own with England training looking towards the August tournament in Scotland, and hopefully a crack at the Level 3 ref award before the end of the year.
Mr P. Beaumont