How Leeds Rhinos young star Jack Broadbent almost became a referee

IF HE wasn’t emerging as one of Betfred Super League’s most exciting young prospects, Leeds Rhinos back Jack Broadbent might still have had a career in the game – as a referee.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 8:47 am

The 20-year-old is ever-present for Rhinos this season and he reckons his experience with the whistle has helped develop a better understanding of the sport.

It isn’t a common path, but Broadbent explained: “When I was about 12 or 13 I went on a refereeing course.

“A lot of people in my team [Batley Boys] went and did it.

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Leeds Rhinos young star Jack Broadbent considered becoming a referee before his career as a player took off. Picture: Steve Riding.

“I did it with one of my close friends Liam Rush,who is now a touchjudge in Super League.

“A couple of my friends I did it with have been quite successful in reffing, they have gone down that path rather than playing.

“I made loads of friends doing it and I’d say to any youngster who’s playing rugby, it is definitely something that benefits you.”

Broadbent, who has featured at stand-off, centre and full-back for Rhinos, reckons his refereeing background has made him a better player.

Leeds Rhinos and England women’s player Caitlin Beevers is also a qualified referee. Picture: Alex Whitehead/

“I know all the rules and you can play the game better if you know the rules,” he said.

“You know what the ref’s looking for, if they give a penalty you know why they are giving it and what the thought process is.

“You know what it is like to be in their boots, so if they get a decision wrong you might see players answering back, but you kind of think twice.

“I’d never go up to a referee because I’ve been a ref and I know how it feels when you are put in that spot. Everyone gets things wrong.”

Chris Kendall played for Huddersfield Giants academy before becoming a referee. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

Broadbent believes more young players should undergo match official training, whether or not they see it as a possible future career.

He insisted: “To any youngster who’s thinking of doing it, I’d 100 per cent say go on a course.

“Even if you don’t want to ref, you will meet so many new people and make so many friends.”

Last year’s Grand Final referee Chris Kendall played for Huddersfield Giants’ academy before taking up the whistle.

Former Super League player Jamie Bloem made a similar transition and Rhinos and England women’s player Caitlin Beevers is also a qualified referee, with the Dewsbury and Batley society.

Broadbent is at the start of his playing career, but admitted becoming a match official is something he might consider when that comes to an end.

“If the opportunity came,” he said.

“It is important to think about your future so maybe, whether it’s being a referee or doing something in the Rugby Football League.

“I am going to uni’ as well, to do a degree.

“I am doing sport marketing, so that’s another back-up.

“Especially at a young age, if you know your future’s set, that’s a good thing to have.”

Broadbent will be the latest Leeds player to study at Leeds Beckett University when he begins his course in September.

“It should be a good opportunity for me,” he added.

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