The NRRA is an incorporated society of currently approximately 80 members, led by a board currently made up of Chairperson/President (combined role) and 4 Directors. Day to day running of the Association is managed by our Referee Administrator, Jules Hirst.
Vision: Our communities enjoying rugby
Mission: To provide skilled match officials for our rugby communities
Values: Professionalism, integrity & pride
Our membership is made up of referees, coaches, assessors, administrators and life members - all fantastic volunteers.
Our boundaries are from as far south as Wellsford right up to Te Hapua, north of Kaitaia. We group our members in sub-unions (in line with Northland Rugby):
Bay of Islands
As the game of Rugby Union developed in the various isolated communities of Northland, Unions were formed which eventually became sub unions when they came under the umbrella of the North Auckland Rugby Union. In parallel, Rugby Referee Associations were formed in Mangonui, Hokianga, Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Northern Wairoa, Otamatea and Rodney. Eventually they became sub Associations of the North Auckland Rugby Referees Association ("NARRA").
All sub Associations were fiercely independent and no referee could have any attachments to any rugby club. A referee transferring from one Association to another couldn’t guarantee his grading level would be accepted by his new Association. It was common for a transferring referee to have to ‘prove his worth’, possibly over several years before he returned to a similar grade level.
At some stage all NZ referees wore the same uniform of a white long sleeved jersey, white shorts and black socks with a white top band. In North Auckland, each sub Association had its own monogram which referees proudly pinned to their jerseys each week. Only NARRA appointed referees (who were selected as the best referees from the sub Associations) wore the NARRA monogram and only when refereeing sub-Union or Union representative fixtures.
The NARRA consisted of one delegate from each sub Association and a non-voting President and Secretary/Treasurer. All referees were affiliated to the NARRA and could attend the AGM but had no vote and speaking rights were only at the discretion of the President.
In 1994 there was a name change to the Northland Rugby Referees Association (“NRRA”).
Referee numbers were high into the 1970s and even though they began to decline in the 80s and 90s. For example, in 1991 the Whangarei region had 47 active referees. Referees were appointed to all games from the youngest grades upwards. In Whangarei, a junior referee was typically appointed to a field at Kensington Park and starting when the hooter sounded at 9am, he refereed all games on that field until noon. Whangarei always kept a senior referee in reserve in case an appointed referee pulled out of his game.
Towards the end of the 1990s, with road improvements and better communication, it was realised that the NRRA structure needed changing. Some years previously, Harry Innes had presented a well- reasoned plan that all senior rugby across Northland should be NRRA appointments, but there was no way that this was going to be past as parochialism was very strong. A sub-committee was set up in 1999 and made a particular study of the Otago, Auckland, North Harbour and Whangarei rules. Members studied a draft rule proposal and after some amendments, a set of rules which saw NRRA become a single entity was passed at the AGM in 1999 and came into effect from 19 January 2000. These rules placed the control of the Association into the hands of all financial and life member referees who annually elected an Executive to run the affairs of the Association.