From Taranaki to Tiblisi – Kiwi Kelly heads to Georgia on three month exchange

NZ Richard+Kelly+ITM+Cup 2
New Zealand High Performance Unit referee Richard Kelly will soon be swapping the summer climate of Taranaki for the slightly cooler climes of the Georgian capital Tiblisi. As part of a development opportunity for Kelly, 30, he will leave the New Zealand North Island and head to the former Soviet Union country of Georgia for three months where he will deliver some in-depth training for the Georgian referees as well as referee matches in their national leagues.

Speaking as the arrangement was finalised, Kelly said, “While rugby in Georgia is on the improve, their referee standards are a little off the pace. They wanted someone to go over there and ref in their competition and try to help out their referees.”  The opportunity to work closely with former Counties Manukau [North Island rugby team] and current Georgia coach Milton Haig also appealed to Kelly.

Rugby referees from all over the world are often to be found thousands of miles away from home, developing themselves, but also experiencing rugby from another part of the world.  Backing that up, Kelly said, “I think it’s a great opportunity to get some international experience and it should help me grow my leadership skills off the paddock.”

Georgia is 17th on the International Rugby Board’s world rankings. The national side played four games at the 2011 Rugby World Cup where they lost to Scotland, England and Argentina but beat Romania.

Other examples see referees from the London Society of Referees in England heading annually to Sri Lanka, India and the Far East as part of a sponsorship arrangement with Standard Chartered Bank.

Where would you like to go on exchange? What examples of exchanges do you have in your country? Either drop us a line at or comment below