Young eagles swoop on referee moment
Two Onehunga brothers are the envy of their team mates after experiencing what it’s like to make the big calls on the rugby league field.
James, 10, and Dylan Maitland, 9, won the AA Insurance NRL Referee experience competition which gave them exclusive access into the life of a referee.
Jimmy Maitland, the boys’ father, entered the competition because they are all big NRL fans.
‘‘I only entered for James as that was the competition, when we got the email saying we’d won I rang them up asking if I could buy another ticket for my youngest and they said they’d work something out.
‘‘They came back
an arrangement for both boys which was better than we could have imagined,’’ he says.
The competition was designed to show kids the importance of a referee’s role in ensuring a game is managed fairly.
The Monte Cecilia School pupils were given the full experience at the Warriors v Panthers game at Mt Smart Stadium on June 29.
They were given a behind-thescenes tour of the stadium, seeing the video referee box, meeting the NRL referees and were even given an earpiece to hear the official referee calls throughout the game.
Rugby league is in the boys’ blood.
They were taken along to their first game as babies.
James has hopes of one day becoming a professional player and according to their father, Dylan could well be a referee.
‘‘Whenever Dylan is watching the match, he is calling out the rules, and who has and hasn’t got a penalty.
‘‘He could be a referee of the future.’’
Both boys play for the Ellerslie Eagles where most of their team mates are feeling slightly jealous.
Even though the family support the Bulldogs they are also avid Warriors fans.
Maitland says they really enjoyed meeting the referees and Warriors players Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell.
‘‘It was an excellent day and such a cool experience for both the boys and myself, ’’ Maitland says.
Game ready: James and Dylan Maitland with the official referees and touch judges for the Warriors v Panthers game. From left, Nick Beashel, Gerard Sutton, Adam Devcich and Ricky MacFarlane.