View from the Middle - A RLWC Diary - Week 2

Penrith Referees' member Grant Atkins is no stranger to the Rugby League World Cup. In 2013 he travelled to the UK where he officiated as a touch judge in the prestigious tournament and his efforts saw him rewarded with appointment to the World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand at Old Trafford.

Fast forward four years, and add a large number of NRL appointments and other significant milestones along the way, and Grant has now been selected to the match officials squad for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, this time as a head referee.

From refereeing junior footy around the local parks of the Penrith District, to now stepping on to the field as one of the top officials in the world, Grant has documented his experiences at the 2017 RLWC to provide an incredible view from the middle of elite officiating Each week we will share Grant's diary from within the camp, allowing our followers remarkable insight into the day-to-day activities of a World Cup match official. A huge thank you to Grant for taking the time to share his story. We hope you enjoy! 


RLWC 2017 Diary – Week Two

Back to base today having self reviewed the Ireland win over Italy. As with all games, they are evaluated by the coaching staff, this game by Luke Watts from NZ. The assessment was pleasing. The night ended with dinner and the announcement of appointments for Round Two. I’m off to PNG for standby.

Tuesdays are always the biggest physically in this camp. A run conditioning session, weights and a swim followed by a number of meetings, one in particular required each team getting up in front of the group and rating their own performance across the following areas, Unity, Respect, Attitude, Discipline and Excellence. The responses varied but the activity gave the other referees an insight into the experience each group had in week one.

As with all camps, the need for some recreation is very important. On Wednesday a group of us headed to Tangalooma resort on Moreton Island, 75 minutes from the Brisbane river. From attempting to master the art of stand up paddle boarding to snorkeling the wrecks situated just off the coast, the day proved to be one not to forget. Interestingly I was on the beach when the three Sutton brothers and Ben Cummins snorkelled the wrecks and I witnessed a shark lurking in the waters between me and them with no way to inform them. I waited until they were on terra firma before I casually dropped the observation on them.

Thursday is captain's run day each week. A session of simulated game play to suit the different sides playing each other in the competition this week. This was followed by weights and a swim. As per the schedule some of the group headed to Canberra for the start of the second round. This was followed by a strength and bike session on Friday in preparation for PNG tomorrow.

Departing for Port Moresby is always a different experience. It's as though the plane is filled with people heading to our nearest neighbour for so many different reasons. We were heading there for the most popular thing in the place. Contrary to many beliefs about the need to stay inside your hotel for the whole time, I organised a way for us to head out and see what this curious nation had to offer. Stopping by a local market we were able to purchase some fresh coconut and bananas. We did however pass up the char grilled tree kangaroo that was hanging from the pole. It was quickly snapped up by a local who must have known a bargain when he saw one. We were also lucky enough to experience a local club which was more like a series of decks on a hillside overlooking the Torres Strait. The people were lovely. 


Game day quickly approached the next morning and the experience of driving to the National Football Stadium is always one to remember. Passion for the sport, unsurpassed by anything else. An early arrival meant we were able to watch the 22 tribes from around the country perform their traditional dances. Accessing the video referee box required climbing scaffolding above the grand stand. In saying this the new stadium outclasses many of the NRL facilities. This truly shows how important the game is to the people of PNG. The Kumuls ran out winner 8-6 over Ireland. A different role this week but one I’ll never forget.