Tauranga based referee, Paki Parkinson, is reaping the benefits of the NZRL National Referee Programme. Parkinson was selected to attend the RLIF sanctioned International 9s Tournament in Samoa after his performances in this year’s pre-season trial fixtures.

Parkinson, a former premier player, was identified by NRL Referee and NZRL Match Official of the Year Chris McMillan as someone with great potential when he attended a level one course in the Bay of Plenty. He quickly integrated himself into the referees’ community going on to referee the Final of the 2017 National Secondary Schools Tournament and fixtures of the National Youth Tournament leading to his selection in the NZRL Referees’ Academy.

Paki Parkinson tells us about his experience in Samoa:

“My Samoan journey started with an official welcome into the tournament with a traditional kava ceremony; this was a first for me. Twelve teams total, it looked like a heavy day with 20 matches between three of us. After the meeting the local referees and I shared a few tips around different rulings. I was fortunate to be able to watch the first four round robin games and managed to do a bit of referee coaching. Being able to share some of my knowledge with other talented referees and learn equally from them was a humbling experience.

Over the whole tournament I was privileged enough to referee six games including the finals. Four round robin games, one semi and the grand final. The weather was very humid and challenging to say the least. The weather was a combination of 35-40 degree heat, torrential rain and thunder storms which was so normal to the locals it didn’t seem to faze them. I really enjoyed the quality of Samoan rugby league, with loads of talent shown considering the slippery wet conditions. With two local teams in the final – Apia Barracudas & Marist Saints – the game was played in high spirits and with such passion; Apia coming out on top 12-8. Before flying home I got to experience some local food and culture in which I thoroughly enjoyed.”