Community Spotlight presented by Merit Travel

May 11, 2018


Commuinty Spotlight presented by Merit Travel: Pender and Hall taking next step in officiating career after being named to National Panel

On May 2, 2018 it was formally announced that Dale Hall and Pete Pender would be joining Rugby Canada’s National Panel of Match Officials.

The National Panel is comprised of 10 match officials from across the country who are at the top of their craft and continue to push the boundaries of excellence. The Panel is used to cover match officiating appointments across all Rugby Canada national events and competitions, including age-grade and senior representative competitions.

Moving up the ladder in their officiating career, Pete and Dale are excited, but they are both taking it in strides and looking at it as an opportunity to grow personally and grow the refereeing community in Ontario and Canada.

Pete Pender is originally from Auckland, New Zealand, but currently resides in the Toronto area. He has been refereeing since 2003. Dale Hall is a Niagara Falls native and began refereeing in 2013.


Question:What are some of the greatest experiences you have had as a match official?


PETE:The biggest appointment I have had is being involved in the Vancouver Sevens as an AR and In-Goal judge. It was an incredible experience. It is also a lot of hard work, but such a fun tournament to be part of. With that being said, my favourite moment would be refereeing a club final in Auckland at Eden Park. This field is wrought in rugby history and it was an honour to be appointed to referee there.

DALE: I have been fortunate enough to have had a lot of great experiences as a match official over the past few years, but the best experiences actually have nothing to do with our job on the field. My favourite moments are those times post-game, especially if I'm fortunate enough to be working in a team of three, when we just get to decompress for a few moments and hopefully grab some food! No matter where I'm appointed to referee, I always reach out to the other match officials there (on the day) and see if they have some time to hang out. Maybe it was my upbringing, but nothing brings people together like good conversation and even better food!


Question:How did your transition from playing to refereeing come about?


PETE: I was recovering from a knee injury after playing during my university days in Dunedin, NZ. I started refereeing to keep fit and stay in the game while I was recovering. I fell in love with refereeing and the rest, as they say, is history.

DALE: Well, I was driving Ray Barkwill to the airport, and he suggested I take a referee course because refereeing would help fund my summer of playing rugby. It was pretty evident that I wasn't going far as a player, but I may have a shot as a referee (the jury is still out on this one also). I didn't stop playing completely though, I still played casually until the summer of 2016. I was playing in a tournament and did some damage to my torso, which affected my training greatly. I decided that the best thing to do was finally stop playing and dedicate 100% of my time to being a match official.


Question:Why would you recommend that players transition into refereeing?


PETE: One thing a lot of people do not realise is that refereeing is a competitive environment. It is essentially a sport within a sport. You have a bunch of amazing athletes that are constantly working to improve and perform well every week so that they can be selected for bigger and better games and tournaments.

DALE: Referees are athletes, referees have the best seat in the house and we share in the adrenaline of the game. The natural lineage is to transition from playing to coaching; however, I think the lineage should evolve. I believe people should referee between playing and coaching.  If you think about it, when you transition from player to coach, you have a more narrow view of the game. You know what you've learned over the years and the systems you used, but if you pick up the whistle for a few seasons, you'll see different tactics and skill-sets you may not have had time to notice before. Refereeing will make you more aware and broaden your knowledge. I think those are two key traits for coaching.


Question:What are some tips you would have for those contemplating getting involved in the game as a referee?


PETE: It is a great way to stay involved in the game and still have a competitive environment, you stay fit, but you don't have to take the big hits every week!

DALE: Don't contemplate any longer and do it. I often offer this advice to new referees: "It is okay to be wrong and it is also okay to admit when you're wrong, especially when you are first starting out.”


Question:What do you look to achieve personally by joining the National panel?


PETE: From a refereeing standpoint, being in the National Panel doesn't change a lot for me. I would like to keep growing and improving as a referee and keep striving for bigger and more challenging games. Ultimately I would love to improve enough that I can be appointed to international fixtures and to be involved in the new Major League Rugby competition that is set to expand to the Eastern side of North America in the coming years.

DALE: I want to learn as much as I can and share what I've learned with anyone who has aspirations of getting to the next level.

Are you interested in becoming a match official? We have referee courses coming up: You can also contact Nicole Kovacs at if you have any questions about starting your officiating career.


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Kevin Baxter

Communications Coordinator - Rugby Ontario

647-560-4790 x 1006