6 October 2022

Rugby League World Cup 2021 has announced the Match Officials that will officiate the tournament’s 61 fixtures, which includes NZRL referees Rochelle Tamarua and Paki Parkinson, with the tournament kicking off at St James’ Park on 15 October.

Auckland-born and raised, Tamarua officiated her first NRLW season this year, after over ten years of dedication to the code in New Zealand. Parkinson is a seasoned referee taking home NZRL’s Match Official of the Year award in 2021.

New Zealand Rugby League would like to congratulate both Rochelle and Paki on their selection.

“What a proud moment to have two Kiwi officials selected to officiate at the highest level in this game,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“Both have served our game over many years and their selection shows a positive pathway for referees in New Zealand.”

Peters adds, “It’s exciting to have both Rochelle and Paki on our World Cup Waka, I know they will make their country and communities proud.”

(RLWC 2021 official release continued)

Australian official Gerard Sutton is another name included, with the vastly experienced Australian having officiated the 2017 Men’s final between Australia and England. Sutton has also refereed seven NRL Grand Finals, the 2014 World Club Challenge and matches in eight State of Origin series.

Sutton will also be joined by England’s Jack Smith, a former Royal Marine who was shot by a sniper by the Taliban in 2011 and who has been touch judge in the Four Nations series in 2016 and for the 2017, 2020 and 2021 Challenge Cup Finals as well as the Super League Grand Final in 2021.

Also on the list is Liam Moore, who has officiated at the last two Super League Grand Finals as well as the Challenge Cup Finals in 2020 and 2021. Ashley Klein, who was in charge of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Final when New Zealand upset Australia to claim their first title, will be participating in his fourth World Cup.

Joining Kiwi Rochelle Tamura, are two other female officials, Kasey Badger and Belinda Sharpe all three are set to officiate across both men’s and women’s tournament fixtures.

The Wheelchair Tournament, which is being run alongside the men’s and women’s competitions for the first time in the sport’s history, will have eight match officials with Kim Abel, Laurent Abrial, Matthew Ball, David Butler, Ollie Cruickshank, Steven Hewson, Grant Jackson and David Roig officiating the matches at English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and the Copper Box Arena in London, before the final heads to Manchester Central on 18 November.

All officials will come into camp before matches for meeting, training and previews to ensure consistency in decision-making and approach, with Men’s & Women’s officials hosted in Manchester and those covering Wheelchair fixtures hosted in Sheffield.

The officials will also attend an Ahead of the Game workshop in conjunction with RLWC2021’s Mental Fitness Partner, Movember, as part of RLWC2021’s Mental Fitness Charter.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 Tournament Director, Dean Hardman, said:

“I am delighted that we have managed to secure such a talented roster of match officials for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

“Our ambition in all areas is to provide players and spectators with a world class environment with which to enjoy what we hope will be the biggest, best and most inclusive World Cup in the sport’s 127-year history.

“We consider our match officials to be the 33rd team of the tournament and I can’t wait to work with them to deliver high standards across all 61 fixtures.”

Jared Maxwell, NRL’s General Manager for Elite Officiating and RLWC2021’s Lead Match Officials Coach, said: 

“We’re delighted to see a number of NRL officials participating in Rugby League World Cup 2021. The tournament brings together the best players from across the globe and it’s important that the quality of officiating meets those same high standards. I know that our officials are really looking forward to travelling to England to play their part in what is looking set to be a fantastic tournament.”


Steve Ganson, Head of Match Officials at the RFL and RLWC2021’s Match Officials Manager said: 

“With the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments running together simultaneously for the very first time it was vital that we assembled the best possible team of officials for all three tournaments. This is a vastly experienced group with a huge wealth of domestic and international experience that will play their part in ensuring Rugby League World Cup 2021 is officiated to the best standard possible.”

A full list of the officials who will be in action at the biggest, best and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history is available below:

Men’s and women’s tournament officials 

Atkins, Grant (NRL); Badger, Kasey (NRL); Bowmer, Dean (RFL); Casty, Ben (FFRXIII);  Child, James (RFL); Furner, Darian (NRL);  Gee, Adam (NRL);  Grant, Tom (RFL); Griffiths, Marcus (RFL); Hicks, Robert (RFL); Horton, Neil (RFL); Kendall, Chris (RFL); Klein, Ashley (NRL); Moore, Aaron (RFL); Moore, Liam (RFL); Parkinson, Paki (NZRL); Poumes, Geoffrey (FFRXIII); Raymond, Wyatt (NRL); Rush, Liam (RFL); Sharpe, Belinda (NRL); Smaill, Michael (RFL); Smith, Jack (RFL); Smith, Todd (NRL); Sutton, Gerard (NRL); Tamarua, Rochelle (NZRL); Thaler, Ben (RFL); Turley, Warren (RFL); Vella, James (RFL)

Wheelchair tournament officials:

Abel, Kim (WALES); Abrial, Laurent  (FFRXIII); Ball, Matthew (ENGLAND); Butler, David  (ENGLAND); Cruickshank, Ollie (SCOTLAND); Hewson, Steven (AUSTRALIA); Jackson, Grant  (WALES); Roig, David (FFRXIII)

August 19, 2022

When the Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters open the NRLW season this Saturday, experienced referee Rochelle Tamarua will fulfil a lifelong dream as she takes the touchline. Auckland-born and raised – Tamarua has been one of the game’s elite officials in New Zealand for the past decade, and she intends to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to further her career.

The Cook Island native first picked up the whistle at age ten, refereeing local touch games and competitions. In 2012 whilst attending Auckland Girls Grammar, she took up rugby league and fell in love with the game finding herself adjudicating Holden Cup touchlines only three years later.

Her rise through the refereeing ranks saw her officiate at the NRL 9’s in 2015 and International Test matches between the Kiwi Ferns and Jillaroos (2015 – 2017) while also being the first female to referee in the Fox Premiership.

“I was finding my feet and gaining momentum.” Rochelle added, “The early years shaped and prepared me for this moment. It was such an experience being on the team in the 20s and International Test windows, but I always had the NRL and NRLW on my mind.”

During this window, Tamarua found herself in a position where she had to give up the whistle for a year.

“I had a lot of momentum going into 2017, but the pressures of life forced me to make a decision. I owned a restaurant and was courier driving throughout the week, coupled with the frequent refereeing appointments in Sydney and weekend games. Unfortunately, I had to put the whistle down for some time.”

“When I picked up refereeing again in 2018, the landscape I had known shifted. I had to start again, from touchlines to refereeing junior grades, but I knew what I wanted and kept pushing towards that.”

Rochelle was dedicated to positioning herself firmly in the NRLW scene and worked her way back up to the top level. Returning to the Fox premiership after her hiatus, it wasn’t until this year that her career took off exponentially.

Starting the 2022 calendar year refereeing the NZRL Women’s Premiership and National 20’s Competition. NZRL then flew her to Australia to officiate the NRL National Women’s Championship in Australia, which ran from the 9th to the 12th of June, of which she refereed the final. The following month she returned to Australia, this time in Queensland, as she officiated in the National Schoolboy Championship and the 15As finale.

At the conclusion of the Schoolboy Championship, the NRLW came knocking and for Rochelle, it was the culmination of all the hard work she had put in to get back to this point.

“It was a hard road to get back here, but when I saw the squad list for the NRLW officials, I felt it was all worth it. I told myself I would make it to this point, and after seven years of challenges and disappointments, it feels like a full circle moment.”

Rochelle added, “I wouldn’t be here if it were not for the support systems around me. Organisations like Auckland Rugby League (ARL), New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL), Auckland Rugby League Referees Association (ARLRA) and the many family and friends I had allowed me to achieve my dream.

“I hope this inspires young Māori and Pasifika girls to chase their sporting dreams – whether it is playing or adjudicating.”

NZRL Referees Manager Alan Caddy said, “New Zealand Rugby League are extremely proud of Rochelle’s inclusion into this year’s NRLW Match Official Squad.

“Rochelle has dedicated herself to years of hard work and persistence with help from organisations such as the ARLRA, NRL, NSWRL and NZRL.

“Rochelle will no doubt look to make the best of this opportunity, and her recent success shows there is a pathway for future referees in New Zealand.”

CEO of ARL Rebecca Russell also added, “ARL are extremely proud of Rochelle’s continued achievements in rugby league. Her efforts and continual hard work have been well rewarded with this opportunity. As she steps into this next challenge, we look forward to seeing Rochelle continue her journey as a pathfinder for female and New Zealand referees.”

Catch Rochelle, and all the NRLW action live on Sky Sport 4!