Two upcoming Welsh referees, Ben Whitehouse (pictured on left) and Craig Evans (right) have been appointed by the Welsh Rugby Union as professional match officials.
Evans, 23, who hails from Glyneath and Whitehouse, 24, from Gowerton join Nigel Owens on the Union’s panel of full-time referees.
The two youngsters, who will work closely with the four Welsh Regions and all the national squads, are already familiar with the demands of top class rugby having come through the very successful WRU referees academy system and were identified very early as referees with huge potential.
Having both already operated at Principality Premiership, British & Irish and LV=Cup level, Whitehouse made his Guinness PRO12 debut this season and is currently on duty at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy where he will take charge of France v Japan tomorrow (Saturday 6 June). Evans, who was voted Principality Premiership Referee of the Year at last week’s Annual Awards Dinner, also has a busy summer ahead having been selected to officiate at all the Rugby Europe 7s tournaments as well as the Olympic qualifiers.
Evans was previously a personal trainer, while Whitehouse was a police officer before joining the Welsh Rugby Union.
Evans said, “I am very grateful to the WRU for giving me this opportunity and the support I have received to date has been tremendous. I can now concentrate solely on my refereeing career and hopefully make significant strides. I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead”.
Whitehouse added: “The demands that are now placed on referees especially with travelling and analysis at professional level meant it was very difficult to balance a full time job and refereeing. This opportunity and challenge is one I am relishing.”
Nigel Whitehouse, WRU National Match Officials Manager said: “This will be a great opportunity for both these young referees to concentrate fully on their refereeing. They will work closely with Nigel Owens as part of their development and will link with the four Regions and the age grade pathway structure within the Union, along with assisting in delivering referee training and courses.”