Cape Town - South African referee Ben Crouse will break new
ground when he takes up the whistle in the USA’s Major League Rugby (MLR)
competition on a five-week assignment in February and March, after receiving an
invite from the tournament organisers.
Crouse, who is on SA Rugby’s National Panel, will
travel to Salt Lake City in Utah next month where he will referee six matches.
His first appointment is for a match between New Orleans Gold and Rugby United
New York in New Orleans on Saturday, February 16, while he will conclude his
duties when the San Diego Legion host the Toronto Arrows in San Diego on
Sunday, March 10.
The MLR competition, which features 10 teams, was
launched in 2017 with the objective of driving American rugby to a higher
levels as a professional sport, and as an avenue for young men and women to
participate in sport.
“This exchange programme serves as a fantastic opportunity for Ben and
for the SA Rugby Referee department,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“With rugby growing worldwide, this will offer Ben
a rare opportunity to experience American rugby first-hand and to grow further
in his career.
“Last year we had a few up-and-coming European
referees officiate Craven Week matches to expose them to South African rugby,
and this opportunity will allow us to further contribute to the growth of the
global rugby community, while at the same time investing in our referees.
“We would like to wish Ben good luck for this
exciting assignment and we know he will be a good ambassador for South Africa
and SA Rugby.”
The MRL season will kick off on January 26, with
the Toronto Arrows meeting NOLA gold and the Houston SaberCats going up against
Austin Elite Rugby in the first two of four matches in the opening round. The
competition is set to conclude in May.