Rugby referees' feature - Jason has done well climbing the referees' ladder

Jason Summers has been a rugby referee for eight years but in that relatively short time he must be doing the job well because as well as officiating at local matches, which he loves, he has also travelled all over Wales – and is rightly proud of the fact that he has refereed and been on the touchline for games at The Millennium Stadium, which he understandably regards as a great honour!
Jason Summers at an eventHe has also become a level Three Performance Referee, which is another big compliment, and is on a course, once the pandemic is over, where he will be able to take on another role in the game as a tutor to new Level One referees just starting out in the role.
“It is great that so much more is done now to encourage new referees, as I have had from previous assessors and Paul Adams, the referees’ performance manager, with regular assessment and encouragement to attend sessions at the WRU’s Vale Centre for specialist training and encouragement with fitness.”
Jason made quite a late start to his involvement in rugby after starting out as a flanker in a useful team at Amman Valley Comprehensive – but then a nasty accident when he fell off a swing and broke his neck it brought an abrupt end to thoughts of playing any rugby after that!
Family matters . . .
On the family front, Jason’s wife Paula has always given him total support to his involvement in rugby and their daughter Kianna (19) played rugby in school and has followed dad by taking the Level One referees’ course before the lockdown – and her younger sister Mekia (16) played a little in school and started with Haverfordwest.
He also has three stepsons, with Jason Conlan (30) doing some coaching with St David’s junior section, with Tristan (28) and Jerome, who is now in Australia after playing full back for Whitland junior and youth teams.   
Because there wasn’t a junior team in Haverfordwest, Jason took him to Whitland and he played there from under 12s to under 16s, with John ‘Hogg’ Davies and Rob Benjamin as coaches.

A start in coaching kids – and refereeing

They asked Jason if he would like to get involved and he did some coaching there as the young Borderers played in a couple of county finals against Crymych and Neyland. They were often short of referees for Sunday morning games and Jason was roped in to do the job and he enjoyed it - and when he contacted Brian Phillips the referees’ fixture secretary who was based in Carmarthen, about becoming a ref, he was quickly signed up.
“So I attended a Level One course in Carmarthen, with Nigel Owens running it and doing a great job – and my current reffing pal Martin Rudd, from Milford Haven, was also with me on that course.
“Then Brian Phillips invited me to a meeting of the Pembrokeshire Society of Rugby Union Referees at Narberth RFC and it was evident from the outset they were all eager to get me started, which was brilliant. Since then I have always had terrific support from the likes of Chris Oliver, Tony Pratt, Andrew Miles, John Griffiths and Colin Phillips, to name just a few of those who do so much behind the scenes.
Jason Summers is far right

Nervous start but went well . . .

“From there I went as a touch judge for a couple of matches and then was given my first match, with Cardigan and Narberth Youth, which was played at a heck of a pace but although I was nervous I was happy with the way it went.
“My assessor was Terry Griffiths, an ‘old school’ assessor who was very down to earth but I found his suggestions very helpful – none more so than the need to command respect from players by giving them respect back, but always with the understanding that I was in charge and my decision was final.”

 Real treat at end of season

“The season went by very quickly and I really enjoyed it – and there was a real treat in store for me at the end when I was told I was appointed to ref the Youth Cup Final, which was played at Whitland between Pembroke and Crymych, who were a strong side and deserved winners of a very, fast-paced and open contest – and it was something of a treat to have neutral touch judges in refs Steve and Huw Jones.”
The next campaign saw Jason appointed as a touch judge for the local youth final and the following season saw him in the middle again; this time at Haverfordwest as Narberth and Crymych faced each other; and in the same year I was asked to referee the Griffiths Cup Final in Neyland, where Haverfordwest under 18s beat their counterparts from Whitland.

Jason Summers, Charlie Watts and Sion Edwards

Not all plain sailing, however!

Whilst most matches he’s been involved in since have been enjoyable there has inevitably the odd one that he can recall for the wrong reason – and none more so than a local derby the other side of Swansea where the pitches weren’t much more than a mile apart but were separated by a desire to settle old scores, long held and unforgotten.
“I spoke to both coaches and they were very good but as soon as we kicked off there was a mass brawl and although I gave two red and four yellow cards during the match the violence was always simmering below the surface and I was quite glad when I could blow the final whistle.
“I was being assessed and at the end it was some comfort when my assessor said that he agreed with all my major decisions and that I’d done well to get the game done. It was not the sort of game you’d want to ref every week though,” admitted Jason with total understatement!

Refereed at the Principality Stadium

But as thrilled as he was with those appointments, it is easy to understand why Jason told us that his most memorable match took place at The Principality Stadium, where he was in charge of the Welsh Youth Final between Burry Port and Newport High School Old Boys.
“Martin Jones (St Clears) was one of my assistant referees whilst Ross Grieve (Carew) was the fourth official, and it was a real thrill to walk out onto the hallowed turf and get the game started.

Jason Summers again far right

Back at The Principality – and more memorable matches

“It was an afternoon I will never forget and only two years later I was back at the home of Welsh Rugby as the second assistant official for the Welsh Bowl Competition where Pembroke just missed out in a tense finale against Porthcawl – and it stands in my memory as a wonderful advert for Welsh Rugby in the lower divisions.
“The excitement continued for me because two weeks later I officiated at the Pembrokeshire Knock Out Cup Final at St Davids where Aberystwyth beat a very tired Pembroke team to take the silverware back to Mid Wales.
To round off some memorable matches, Jason was also chosen as fourth official for a match between the Scarlets and Bath in the old Anglo-Welsh Cup competition, where the Scarlets came back to win and Pembrokeshire’s flanker Josh McLeod scored one of their tries.

And finally . . .

But he also loves being involved on the day when the Pembrokeshire Junior Finals are held across the age ranges up to under 16 level and is full of praise for the organisational work undertaken by Ken Davies and Sarah Hill.

“They both sum up what is right about rugby for kids in our county,” Jason told us, “along with the huge numbers of club administrators, coaches and parents.”
So what of the future rugby aspirations for Jason Summers?

I’m just looking forward to getting back to my reffing, which I love, but the challenge of helping others to get started is something that really excites me.
“I think we might have a wait before rugby gets back on its feet again but I am confident it will continue to grow in our county again – and am looking forward to playing my part in it!”

Jason Summers, left, at Principality Stadium