With his sights firmly set of being a referee at an international level, Harry Wharerau’s debut refereeing at Eden Park was a taste of things to come. It’s a far cry from the milking shed, but it’s a road on which this young Northland man is intent upon travelling.
For any rugby enthusiast, your first steps on the hallowed turf at Eden Park are ones you will never forget. The sheer size of the venue and the atmosphere is enough to send a thrill through anyone. Actually playing a part in the proceedings and refereeing at Eden Park is a daunting prospect, but it was an experience Harry was ready for and happy to be involved in. Harry was an assistant referee for the game between his old school, Kaitaia College and Mt Albert Grammar (MAGS), which was the curtain raiser for the Blues in the opening First XV match for the season.
The experience was memorable one for Harry – on and off the field. Getting to see where the top referees prepare for the game and to experience how they are treated at the top level made a big impact on him.
He also felt the television presence keenly. “If I mucked up, I was gonna be on telly then and there and I wouldn’t have been able to fix my mistake!” Harry says the support he received from and the referee the other assistant referee gave him the boost he needed and he was able to focus on the task at hand.
Highlights of the match
For Harry, being at Eden Park with a team from his old school and supporting them made the biggest impact on him. Seeing these young men who have grown up in his hometown, get to play at Eden Park was a wonderful experience. One of his strengths is the ability to communicate with younger players, as they respect him and listen to the advice he gives them – a vital skill for every referee!
The other highpoint was meeting and having a picture taken with international referee, Jaco Peyper.
Power of Mentoring
As well as being a mentor himself to younger players, Harry praises the support and advice he has received from the older referees, here in Northland. From them, Harry says he receives invaluable advice and encouragement. He knows that he can call them during the week and they will happily answer his questions. The refereeing community here is like a family, where every member looks out for each other, supporting each other in their mission to have a positive effect on the game in general.
Looking to the future
One of his main struggles at present is trying to fit refereeing in around farming. Like many rugby greats before him, Harry spends his days working hard on a dairy farm, which as everyone knows, is hard work. Finding the energy to go out on chilly evenings and early Saturday mornings takes a certain resolve, but Harry is a quietly determined young man who projects confidence in his ability. One gets a sense that when he’s set his mind to something, he’ll see it happen!
He’s just refereed his first premier game up in Taipa where the pressure was almost greater than he felt refereeing at Eden park – hometown critics can be tough! He’s now looking forward to a career on the international stage, and having had a taste of it at Eden Park, he knows that it’s the path for him.