From Las Vegas to the home of rugby, via Cleckheaton

Pete Stentiford, centre, before refereeing at Twickenham
Pete Stentiford, centre, before refereeing at Twickenham

Whitby-based referee Pete Stentiford enjoyed a week to remember, officiating on the international stage before taking charge of a game at England HQ.

After four days at the Las Vegas Sevens earlier this month, the 35-year-old jetted back to England to referee the under-18s Natwest Schools Vase final at Twickenham.

“It was quite a week really, I flew home from refereeing the Vegas Sevens, then did a game at Cleckheaton on the Saturday, an under-eights match at Northallerton on the Sunday then went down to Twickenham,” Stentiford told the Whitby Gazette.

“It was good fun out in America but very hot, so it was a bit of a contrast getting back out on a pitch in West Yorkshire.

“While I was in Vegas, I received an email from the Rugby Football Union (RFU) inviting me down to referee the Vase final.

“It proved to be an experience that I will never forget.”

Stentiford, a referee for six years, has officiated abroad in the past at tournaments including the Brussels Sevens and in Portugal and Poland.

He usually referees in National League Divisions Two and Three North, but revealed that taking charge of a game at the home of rugby was a dream come true.

“As a player, I always wanted to play at Twickenham but never got the chance,” Stentiford added.

“It takes a club nearly two years to get the opportunity and you have to go through 15 rounds of the cup to get there.

“So the chance was a once in a lifetime experience for me.”

The Natwest Schools Cup is an annual competition for English schools, with over 500 teams competing at both under-18s and under-15s level.

Stentiford was asked to officiate the final of the under-18s Vase competition as a reward from the RFU for services to rugby after he refereed 60 games in a season, more than double the amount of games overseen by many of his counterparts.

“It was nice to be recognised by the RFU and a great day for me,” he continued.

“Leading both teams out in the tunnel, seeing yourself on the big screen and video replays and meeting new people, it was a fantastic experience.

“I’ve refereed England under-19s games and England Students in the past, so it wasn’t the most high-profile game I’ve been in charge of, but I really enjoyed it.”

A regular for Whitby RUFC for many years, Stentiford says he still enjoys playing rugby, but finds his opportunities limited.

“I still love playing and I really miss it, but I just don’t have the time anymore as I’m always reffing on a weekend,” he added.

“I played for Whitby a few weeks ago, which was fun, but refereeing is my priority now.”