USA Rugby and MLR to collaborate on referee development and form National Referee Team

Thu, Feb 8, 2024, 1:16 AM
by Calder Cahill.

Major League Rugby (MLR) and USA Rugby announced a collaboration on referee development today. This collaboration is aimed at solidifying a pathway for domestic referees into MLR in the lead up to Rugby World Cups 2031 and 2033.

David Wilkinson has been appointed as Director of Match Officials for MLR. He will manage all aspects of officiating in MLR, while a portion of his role will be directed toward domestic community development with USA Rugby. David brings with him a wealth of experience from his role as National Referee Manager at the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). His work with the IRFU included setting strategies and policies, identifying talent, and coaching referees up to and including the professional level.

“I am thrilled to be joining the League at such an exciting time for rugby in North America. My aim is to ensure that MLR is completely serviced by American and Canadian referees in the near future and I look forward to working with all stakeholders in the USA Rugby ecosystem to do so,” said Wilkinson.

“The importance of the officials in our game can never be understated. This partnership with USA Rugby mirrors our initiatives on the player pathways and aims to make MLR a leader in the development of match officials,” said Nic Benson, CEO of Major League Rugby.

“As the highest level of rugby in the country, it is imperative that USA Rugby and MLR are aligned to ensure consistency of message for aspirational match officials in this country. This collaboration also cements USA Rugby’s referee development structures as the pathway to being involved in MLR,” added Jamie McGregor, USA Rugby Referee Manager.

USAR MLR Referees 4

Joining Wilkinson on the MLR management team will be former Rugby World Cup referee Alain Rolland as well as David McHugh – recipient of the 2023 World Rugby Referee Award. Mike Cron returns to assist referees and teams with the scrum, and MLR’s most capped referee, Scott Green, will begin his transition to Referee Development Officer to mentor upcoming referees.

David Wilkinson Director of Match Officials
David McHugh Referee Coach
Alain Rolland Referee Coach
Scott Green Referee Development Officer
Mike Cron Scrum Coach
Rosalind Anderson Administrative Manager

The collaboration will also see the re-formation of a National Panel, called the USA Rugby National Referee Team, consisting of the USA-based referees selected by MLR to referee at the highest level of the game domestically. The intent is that as many of these referees as possible will have greater opportunities ahead of them at the international level as well.


Amelia Luciano New England Rugby Referee Society
Derek Summers Texas Rugby Referee Association
Lex Weiner Rugby Referee Society of New York
Marquise Goodwin SoCal Rugby Referee Society
Luke Rogan Rugby Referee Society of New York
Scott Green Texas Rugby Referee Association
Kahlil Harrison Utah Rugby Referee Society
Kat Roche Texas Rugby Referee Association
Cisco Lopez Southeast Rugby Referee Society

This month, MLR Referees and TMOs (including those representing Rugby Canada) attended a pre-season camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to ensure alignment ahead of the 2024 season. The camp was run alongside the USA Rugby Regional Development Group camp, which saw 40 of the nation’s top referees in attendance.

USAR MLR Referee Team 2

Topics covered included a scrum presentation from the Miami Sharks coaching staff, workshops on contextual refereeing, Assistant Referee communications, strength and conditioning, and more. Several sessions saw the MLR and USA Rugby groups combine for further collaboration.