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US Rugby Foundation Provides Youth Referee Grants Through Shanagher-Morrison Fund

May 21, 2021

The North America Youth Rugby Referee Program was created to give opportunities for developing youth referees to travel to tournaments around North America and work with local and National referee coaches. The organization is a non-profit and 100% of the donations and sponsorships go directly to the expenses of sending a group of youth refs, a referee coach, and at least one chaperone to youth rugby events in North America.

The US Rugby Foundation, through the Shanagher-Morrison Referee Development Fund, provided the funding for four of these young referees to take part in the exchange program.The six refs who traveled from the Potomac Rugby Referee Society were:

Camden Erickson (16)

Zach Hayes (15)

Cole Bevilacqua (15)

Taylor Downer (14)

Tyler Fraine (14)

Jack Fraine (11)

There were 42 matches in the following age groups: 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th and HS boys and girls.

Most of the matches had teams of 3 (center referee and 2 AR’s) and every match had a referee coach.

The referee coaches were:

Timmy O’Gara – TRRA, WR Educator, and USAR CMO2 (NAYRRP director)

Ken Fraine – Potomac Referees, MLR, USAR CMO2 and WR Educator (NAYRRP director)

Kevin Cousins – TRRA, MLR & USAR CMO2

Paul Graham – USAR CMO, Texas Referee, USAR CMO2 & Rugby Texas board

Phil Klevorick – Back10pros (sponsor) and USAR CMO2

Mitch Damn – MLR, Texas Referee, USAR CMO2

Ozzie Bayazitoglu – TRRA Board & MLR

Jeremy Turner – Former president of USA referees, Former Chairman of Texas society of rugby referees and former president of MLR franchise The Houston Sabercats

Fernando Garcia – World Rugby & Mexico National Panel Referee (and school teacher)

Jack Fraine (11)

“The place was so nice I had a fun time, it was a good experience. Some things I liked about Texas were that the refs were nice and had a fun time working with them. Also traveling is fun I liked it and hoped to do this again. The players and refs all seemed like they were also having fun, that’s good. Also, Texas is just a nice place all around. The views the fields the beaches all nice and all the ref coaches were doing a really good job, it was a lot of fun!”

Cole Bevilacqua (15)

“The trip was very enjoyable. The players had a good attitude. The coaches were very friendly, and the referee coaches had some great tips. I think the trip really helped me grow as a ref because I had experienced referees from all around the world helping me to get better. They were very clear in what they wanted me to work on to improve my skills. I look forward to more trips like this. Thank you for the experience!”

Tyler Fraine (14)

“The trip to Texas was a great bonding experience with my fellow youth referees. In fact, I was even promoted in the week following the trip to Texas. I really look forward to making more trips in the future and gain more experience with the game of rugby.”

Taylor Downer (14)

“The trip last weekend to Texas was definitely a beneficial trip. I enjoyed being able to get to know new referee teams with no background knowledge of them, as I feel it grows more confidence because with people you may know, it is easier to sometimes make unintentionally biased calls. I also really enjoyed having new referee coaches. As much as my coach (Ken Fraine) has helped me and guided me, it’s always great to get a fresh pair of eyes criticizing me. Everyone in Texas was very welcoming, and really seemed like they enjoyed being there and excited to help. It was a bonding trip with other referees I came from VA with as well. I hope everyone who went continues to referee, as well as I hope new referees also come on out. All-in-all, it was a very productive and beneficial trip, and I hope more opportunities like this are available in the future!”

Zach Hayes (15)

“Recently, my friends and I were invited to Texas to referee a rugby tournament. This experience was amazing and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity I was given and would like to thank the sponsor and the Texas referee association and then Ken and Coach Mark for taking us. When we got to the hotel, we were all very excited and shocked because the hotel was extremely nice and well maintained. We soon went to the pool for a few hours and then to the beach. We weren’t really thinking about the sun and sunscreen, so we all got fried which was very painful. After we were done with the pool, we went to get dinner at this restaurant in downtown Galveston which was very good, and the service was pretty good then we went to the pier and went on the Ferris wheel. The next day we were the refs for the tournament, I was able to ref like 5 games from 5th/6th, 7th/8th to high school. It was a good experience being able to ref 3 different age groups because I was able to work on different things during each game and having a ref coach help me out and let me know what I could improve on. I really enjoyed the whole experience at the tournament, and I definitely think I got better throughout the day. After the tournament we went back to the hotel and went to the pool for a little bit then we got pizza from this pizza place downtown which tasted amazing and after we had pizza, we went to the pier again but this time it was Jack, Cole, Taylor, and me. Cole, Taylor, and I went on the roller coaster Iron Shark which was super fun then Jack and Taylor went on this other ride called rock n roll. I think all of us had an amazing time in Texas and are extremely grateful for this opportunity we had and thankful for everyone that made this possible.”

How It All Started

“This particular exchange was a couple of years in the making when Timmy O’Gara and I met at a referee coaching course in Las Vegas. We discussed the prospect of developing our local youth referees locally and then giving them opportunities to travel to tournaments in each other’s states (Texas and Virginia). We kept up the discussion on and off over a couple of years and then the Brazoria Spartans Youth Tournament (south of Houston) sprang up a few months ago, we saw this as the perfect venue for our first exchange.

Potomac Referee Society confirmed that they had 6 youth refs available to travel for the May 8th tournament, along with a referee coach and a parent chaperone. As the word got out about the first exchange, other societies began to contact us to see how they could get involved. At that point, we started contacting sponsors to help support the exchange program and eventually created the North American Youth Rugby Referee Program (NAYRRP). This program is officially under the Potomac Rugby Referee Society, a non-for-profit organization.

Our next step with this program is to reach out to referee societies around North America to gauge their interest in participating in the program. For those organizations that already have an established youth referee development program, we can fairly quickly welcome them into NAYRRP. For the others, we can assist by providing guidance on how to establish this type of program and eventually become a part of the program.”

Ken Fraine | Referee Coach and Youth Referee Development CoordinatorPotomac Rugby Referee Society

Anyone interested in becoming involved as a referee, referee coach, or sponsor may contact Ken Fraine or Timmy O’Gara

Shanagher-Morrison Referee Development Fund

The Shanagher-Morrison Referee Development Fund provides grants to USA referees for domestic and international training courses and competition opportunities, focusing on those applicants with a passion for improving their skills and refereeing at the highest possible levels. The Fund is named after two of the most celebrated referees in the history of USA Rugby, Denis Shanagher Sr. and Don Morrison, both members of the US Rugby Hall of Fame.

Please submit referee grant requests to US Rugby Foundation President, Brian Vizard, at