Blowing the Whistle: Exploring the Experiences of Early-Career New Zealand Rugby Referees

Ali, Javeed Nur
Naylor, Michael
Ferkins, Lesley
Item type
Degree name
Doctor of Philosophy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

The extent to which officials stay in the role varies (Bernal et al., 2012; S. L. Forbes & Livingston, 2013), but the reasons why are still not well understood. Although researchers have explored continuation amongst officials, a comprehensive understanding is still lacking (S. L. Forbes & Livingston, 2013). A growing body of knowledge outlines various aspects of officials’ experience, including factors related to initial and continuing engagement (Auger et al., 2010; Hancock et al., 2015; Livingston & Forbes, 2017). Other studies have identified that attrition is linked to organisational shortcomings (e.g., Dosseville et al., 2013; S. L. Forbes & Livingston, 2013; S. Kim, 2017; Livingston et al., 2017; Livingston & Forbes, 2016; Rayner et al., 2016; Sam et al., 2018; Warner et al., 2013). One clear area of focus needed within this growing body of work is the role and influence of organisations in the experience of newer officials. Furthermore, as per Cuskelly and Hoye (2013), we know that the experience of early-career referees (i.e., those who have been refereeing for five years or less) is different than their more seasoned colleagues (i.e., six years or more), and the nature of that experience affects continuation (Cuskelly & Hoye, 2013; MacMahon et al., 2014). Further research based on referee tenure is needed.

A three-study, multimethod design was carried out for this project. Both secondary and primary data were obtained. Study 1 found that early-career referees (ECRs) and seasoned referees (SRs) are distinct in many ways, indicating that Rugby Referee Associations (RRAs) ought to customise approaches for the two groups. It also highlighted that RRAs are central to the ECR experience. Study 2 had four foci covering the influence of a number of constructs and referees’ intention to continue. It was found that intrinsic motivation explains continuation, but unexpectedly no moderation effects were found for perceived organisational support, organisational commitment and role commitment. Further, it was found that multiple organisational factors contribute towards continuation and that a sense of community influences the relationships between abuse and intention to continue. Study 3 highlighted that RRAs quite profoundly influence the experience of ECRs. Remuneration ambivalence, broader recognition, disparate support systems and perceptions of inequity are prominent themes within that influential role. One important takeaway from this project is that the more positive their experience, the more likely an ECR is to continue as a referee.

Publisher's version
Rights statement