The RFU have unveiled recently-retired Harlequins scrum half, Karl Dickson as their latest recruit into their Professional Game Match Officials Team (PGMOT).
Dickson, 34, who retired last week with 169 Quins appearances to his name, began his refereeing qualifications in January 2014 while continuing to play Premiership rugby. He made his refereeing debut as part of the London Society of Rugby of Referees, at the Reigate School 7s in March 2014 and since then has taken charge of a range of matches including schools, club juniors, sevens as well as local and national league clubs.
Last season, he joined the National Panel as one of the best 55 referees in the country and was appointed to his first National League One fixture in October when Old Albanians played Loughborough Students.
Dickson has refereed two A League semi-finals, Exeter v Newcastle in 2016 and Gloucester v Wasps in 2017 and made his debut in the Greene King IPA Championship in the Christmas Eve match between London Irish and Richmond. Three days later he was involved in Big Game 9 where Harlequins played Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership at Twickenham
Dickson said, “Over the last two years any time that I have had – a free Saturday or Sunday or even during the week – I would referee as many games as possible to get as much practice as I could. Every game you learn something new and gain increasing match sharpness.
“I would always encourage players to plan for when they retire and the fact that I’ve been refereeing for three years already puts me in a position where I can look forward to starting with the team next season and, having refereed in a Championship game this year, hopefully officiate more at that level. I wouldn’t have this opportunity unless I started when I did.
“It’s an exciting new challenge. I’ve been part of a rugby team for so long and now get to keep that team environment but with a different group. The match officials are full-time and work together at Twickenham on a Monday and Tuesday and, of course, over the weekends. It will be different for me but it’s very exciting and I’m looking forward to starting later in the summer.”
Tony Spreadbury, Head of Professional Game Match Officials said, “I’ve been impressed by Karl’s commitment, his attitude and his desire to go all the way in refereeing. His experience at scrum half means he understands and has a good connection with both forward and back play. We’re very much looking forward to him joining us full-time to continue his development.
“We think he is an exciting prospect and has the skills to progress up the ladder. It is great that he has chosen refereeing as a post playing career and took the initiative to qualify before retiring. We hope that he will be a role model for others, encouraging more players to consider refereeing in the future.”