10-year-old rugby referee continues reaching for the stars - Ruck

10-year-old rugby referee continues reaching for the stars

When our partners at ACME whistles first met 10-year-old Arthur Cripps in November 2021, they were so taken by his passion and tenacity that they wanted to keep following his journey.

Due to a congenital heart condition that he has had since birth, Arthur was told he couldn’t take part in contact sports. Not being perturbed about that, he turned his attention to refereeing rugby – a sport he and his family love. 

Spurred on by his sports teacher, Jonny Cartwright, and with refereeing skills written into his curriculum at Cheadle Hulme School, Arthur has made massive headway on his sporting journey.

“I’ve learnt a lot over the past 7 months which has helped me to progress and get better,” said Arthur, aged 10. 

“I’ve gone from only refereeing classmates to doing it in tournaments, including a few 7s tournaments and short games. I’m always listening to the advice I get and trying to improve.”

One person offering advice to Arthur was none other than top British referee, Luke Pearce. 

ACME introduced the two and over a zoom call, they chatted about the challenges of refereeing, including reaction times, communication and how to deal with players who break the rules or argue with the ref’s decision. 

Speaking about the session with Luke, Arthur said: “The way Luke treats players has helped me the most. Even if the players don’t like my decisions, they can still understand why I’ve made them and they have more respect for me.

“I’m definitely more comfortable saying what I think now and it’s funny when people randomly call me ‘sir’ around school.”

Mr Cartwright recently surprised Arthur by announcing that they have been invited to Twickenham in May to have lunch with international rugby union referee Wayne Barnes with an opportunity to sit in on the match official team monthly review session.

Mr Cartwright said: “It was a real goosebumps moment receiving that invitation and, once I’d ensured it wasn’t one of my colleagues winding me up, I got really excited for Arthur.

“He has gone from asking if he can referee because he couldn’t play to 7 months later getting a letter to say that Wayne Barnes wants to have lunch with him at the home of rugby in Twickenham.

“Arthur has never let his heart condition get in the way of his passion for rugby. He’s just altered how he gets involved in it. 

“Arthur is so proactive in developing himself and upskilling. He pays attention, looks around him to pick up on things and he’s always practicing to get his timings right. 

“The interaction with his peers has improved as he’s evolved and grown, even in such a short space of time and I’m really proud of how far he’s come.”

Cheadle Hulme School has an “all through” approach to rugby which means that Mr Cartwright will continue to support Arthur on his refereeing journey until he leaves school aged 18.

Arthur is also hoping to take another massive step forward with his refereeing experience, with a chance to referee some of the best players in the country at a Sale Sharks’ first team training session.

When asked how he felt about that, Arthur said: “All my favourite players play for Sale so it would be great to meet and ref them.

“I don’t think I’ll have to send anyone off, but if I do then I would definitely say sorry afterwards!”

As well as rugby, Arthur is a keen cricketer and will spend his summer playing cricket, while continuing to watch rugby, practicing his refereeing skills.  

The team at RUCK and ACME Whistles will continue to follow Arthur on his journey and we wish him luck with his upcoming opportunities. 

For more information on ACME Whistles, visit www.acmewhistles.co.uk