Kristoff Young, Head Coach and Event Co-ordinator at Bristol Sport Foundation (BSF) has been called up to join the referee team for the Wales vs Scotland Six Nations rugby game. Taking place tomorrow (12 February) at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Kristoff says: “It’s a huge honour to receive this appointment to be a part of the refereeing team for the upcoming fixture. I’m really looking forward to working with the matchday referee from Australia, Nic Berry, and his linemen Wayne Barnes and Chris Busby.
“I have been appointed as Assistant Referee 4, so my job will be to manage the substitutions with the other assistant referees and take water onto the field for Nic Berry during the match. Being a part of the team for an international match is something I have always dreamed of since I started my referee journey back in 2014. I am excited to be given this opportunity and am really proud of making this dream a reality.”
It was back in 2014 when Kristoff was playing youth rugby for his local club Chepstow R.F.C, that he came across a Level 1 Referee course whilst scrolling on social media.
“I started to feel that I wasn’t going to progress any further with my player journey. One evening I was scrolling through Twitter and saw the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) had a Level 1 Referee course coming up in February, I thought; ‘I love rugby and know the game well enough, so I might as well give it a go.’”
Tomorrow’s match marks just over 8 years since Kristoff started his referee journey. But his story goes deeper than just staying involved with the sport he loves. Having dyslexia and going through school presented its challenges, so rugby and sport became a sanctuary for Kristoff.
“I attended the Level 1 WRU course at Cross Keys R.F.C. on Sunday 9th February 2014 and since that date I haven’t looked back! I’m dyslexic and in the past, I’ve struggled to engage with people – especially when I was younger. There were some games early on when I first started, that I thought to myself, ‘Is this for me?’ As you’ve gone from playing the game with you friends, to being the man who is controlling how the game runs.
“In secondary school rugby was my escape from any struggles I felt with my dyslexia. So I knew it was what I wanted to do and the support I’ve had form the wider rugby community is amazing. Teachers, friends and former teammates have all really encouraged me to keep going. It’s such a positive environment and refereeing has not only increased my sporting knowledge of the game, but it’s really helped me grow in confidence as a person.
“I’m enjoying every step of my progression and love being able to stay involved with my favourite sport. I’m currently a Level 3 Performance Referee who is titled to officiate the Championship, Division 1-3 and regional and college under 18’s fixtures. Throughout my career so far I have been fortunate enough to referee the National Youth Bowl Final and I’ve been an assistant referee for some other finals all inside the Principality Stadium.”
Since 2015 Kristoff has been a Dual Code Referee, meaning he can officiate Rugby Union and League.
“I recently refereed the opening fixture of the Rugby League Betfred Challenge Cup 2022, between Bridgend Blue Bull vs Royal Navy. I was also the touch judge for the second round of the cup and have been promoted into the Rugby Football League Academy group for this season. Being allocated to all these big matches is a complete honour and a great way to start the year off with a bang!
“I would really encourage any young person out there who feels like they want to continue their journey with rugby at a higher level to consider refereeing. There is lots of opportunity and a huge pathway. The support I’ve had along the way has been immense. I now have groups of friends that I’ve made across the UK and I can always call upon them to chat through anything if I feel like a game could have gone better, or to celebrate any achievements.”