After hanging up his boots for Hutt Old Boys Marist Steve Newson decided to pick up refereeing in 2011 in order to stay in the game.
Steve first became involved in rugby when he was 18, playing for HOBM’s Under 21 side (nowadays referred to as the colts).
At 26 he became involved in coaching with HOBM for a number of seasons before moving his coaching to Petone where his son was playing.
“My boy played for Petone so I was involved with coaching Petone and spent a year coaching under 13s, but my boy came through all the grades and so I was involved with his rugby right through there as well”, said Newson.
One day when watching a game of junior rugby Steve thought the referee wasn’t doing a good job, it was this moment that sparked his interest.
“We told him maybe you should be a bit fairer, and he said if you can do better you can do it and I said fine, took the whistle and went and did it”.
In 2011 Steve registered with the Wellington Rugby Referees association and will soon referee his 50th game of Premier rugby.
“I remember my first game at Rongotai College at the top field there, I enjoyed it, it was good to get out there and run around and I found the more I enjoyed it the more I wanted to do it”.
Now refereeing Premier grade rugby Steve has all through the grades as well as refereeing overseas.
“I did a Hardham cup semi-final that went into extra time between Norths and Petone a couple of years ago”.
“I’ve been to Hong Kong and refereed the Tens and then was involved running touch with the Hong Kong Sevens”.
The 46-year-old likes to get along with the players and engage in the occasional banter.
“I often get told I look like Shane Cameron, we were packing a scrum down [during a game] and one of the locks looked and said gee you look like Shane Cameron ref and then one of the other front rowers said started chipping in and the next thing I know we are all laughing so I had to blow the whistle to stand them all up and say guys compose yourself”.
“Been knocked over a couple of times which is always a bit of a laugh, you get up and clean the mud out of your whistle”.
Steve Newson has also refereed club sevens but doesn’t think it is harder to ref then the fifteens game.
“You don’t have to be as close you don’t follow the ball as much you can run more of a lazy line, if your fit and you can run ball in line you don’t have to be at the breakdown, were as fifteens you have to be at the break down to find ball”.
Steve says is people are thinking of becoming referees they should definitely get involved as it’s a good way to stay in the game.
“Just get out there and do it, give it a go it’s a good way to be involved and not take the knocks, once you get into it and learn the laws it becomes enjoyable”.
That includes the son mentioned above – now-17-year-old Brad – who is an accomplished referee in his own right.
This weekend Newson will referee Oriental-Rongotai versus Wainuiomata at the Polo Ground, a crunch game with the winner still in the hunt to make this year’s Jubilee Cup but the loser possibly Hardham Cup-bound.
This story is in conjunction with the Wellington Rugby Referees Association. To find out more about becoming a referee go to www.wrra.org.nz/sign-up , or search #beinthegame on social media