Congratulations to Amelia Luciano, the first ever Don Morrison Referee Scholarship recipient. Amelia will spend the entire 2013 season in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a full-time member of the Canterbury Referee Association. Luciano’s move to New Zealand will allow her to be completely immersed into New Zealand’s culture. She will not only become a fulltime member of the Canterbury Referee Association there, but will also seek employment under the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Program.
It is only through the support and generosity of the rugby community that programs like this can flourish. To support this program, please visit us at USA Rugby Foundation.
Luciano’s love of rugby began during her undergraduate college years. She served as player-coach of her Cornell team after her head coach moved on in 2008. Her achievements as a player are numerous, including two New York State Conference titles and an appearance in the Division I Northeast Rugby Union Final Four. After graduating from Cornell in 2011, she began refereeing and immediately developed a passion for officiating.
"I thought it would be challenging," she said, "but I didn't imagine that I would enjoy it as much as I did. My favorite thing about refereeing is that the referee must see the game on multiple levels in order to give both teams a fair chance and in order the ensure law application as it was intended to allow the game to flow."
Although she has to put her PhD studies at Yale on hold while she is abroad, Luciano is excited about the opportunities that await her in a new country. "New Zealand is the one country in the world that cares about rugby more than any other sport,” she said. “Immersing myself in that culture and being around so many people who have a deeper understanding and love for the game than most Americans do will allow me to improve my skill set and to gain new perspective."
In order to share her experiences with the Don Morrison Scholarship, Luciano will be reporting back to American rugby audiences through weekly blog entries. To view her blog, please click here. When Luciano returns to the United States, she will participate in promotional and educational activities that will further encourage referee development and pass along the new knowledge that she will learn during her stay in New Zealand.
About the Don Morrison Referee Fund:
The Don Morrison Referee Fund (named after one of USA Rugby’s most accomplished referees) was created to encourage more young people to become referees and is completely donor funded through USA Rugby Foundation. The Fund covers all costs, including travel and lodging and living expenses, for the recipient to travel to and spend an entire season refereeing in a major rugby country.
The Scholarship was created to directly reflect the primary objective of USA Rugby’s Referee Department: “…to effect sustainable growth in match officials including lowering the age at which Americans are introduced to refereeing. Achieving this objective should lead to increased competition, improved match official development pathways and ultimately improve overall performance.”
Twenty applicants were considered for this award. Luciano was chosen after three phases of review.
"Amelia's obvious passion for the game, coupled with a strong self-motivating nature, leapt from the pages of her application," USA Rugby Referee Department Director Ed Todd said. "We also liked her commitment to developing as a referee, and her references were very positive.”
Todd believes that immersion programs like this one play a huge role in referee development and success. "Three referees have spent parts of rugby seasons with the Canterbury Referee Association in the past. Brian Zapp is now one of our top five referees, George O'Neil is a National 3 referee, and Brei Gussack is president of the Potomac Society. It requires a level of commitment to climb the ladder. Amelia will get that in New Zealand at this early stage of her career."
The Don Morrison Referee Fund is able to raise the bar and create international learning opportunities for up and coming referees like Amelia through generous contributions to USA Rugby Foundation. If you would like to support this worthwhile program, please visit USA Rugby Foundation to make a gift.