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Sports scholar graduates Matthew and Christophe named as match officials for Six Nations

University of Gloucestershire graduates Matthew Carley and Christophe Ridley have been awarded refereeing appointments at rugby union’s upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship.

The duo were both part of the sports scholarship programme at the University on the officiating pathway – the only one of its kind in the UK.

Sports Science graduate Matthew, who was the first person to complete an RFU refereeing scholarship at the University, will take charge of the important round four match between defending champions Wales and France at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Friday 11 March.

Earlier in the showpiece competition, Matthew (top image) and BSc Sports Coaching graduate, Christophe, will be on opposite touchlines as the assistant referees for the round three fixture between Ireland and Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday, 27 February.

Matthew and Christophe have been handed key appointments in the potentially decisive round of final fixtures on 19 March, with Matt named as assistant referee for the match between Wales and Italy and Christophe on the touchline for the clash Ireland and Scotland.

Christophe Ridley during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Sale Sharks at Kingsholm Stadium on 9 October last year (Photos by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Matthew and Christophe have gained a wealth of experience on the international stage and as established referees in English rugby union’s top domestic competition, the Gallagher Premiership, since graduating from the scholarship programme at the University.

The referees and officials aspect of the sports scholarships programme is run by former international referee, Chris White, who officiated at three Rugby World Cups and is now the RFU National Referee Academy Manager.

He said: “Both Matthew and Christophe joined us in their formative years as referees, when they were both about 18 or 19, and they’re now superb role models to everyone on the scholarship programme. We’re really proud of what they’ve gone on to achieve.

“Many of the young people on the programme have the passion and drive to succeed, and Matt and Christophe, along with other graduates of the programme now officiating at a high level, have shown that you can get to where you want to be with hard work and commitment.”

The University’s sports scholarships help talented athletes, officials and aspiring coaches achieve their goals across a wide range of sports, and scholars are able to combine this bespoke support with any degree programme. The University of Gloucestershire is the only university in the UK offering an officiating scholarship alongside studying for a degree. The other pathways focus on athletes and coaches.

Graduates of the programme also include Premiership rugby referee Anthony Woodthorpe, Championship football assistant referee Daniel Leach and Jade Wordall, who has officiated in the Women’s Super League, and Lauren Kianchehr, an international Boccia referee and Boccia England Performance Coach.

Chris White added: “As a referee in the modern game, you need to have developed a wide range of transferable skills, including communication, decision making, management and fitness.

“Students on the sports scholarship programme won’t all want to become top-level referees, but these are skills they will acquire that will help them in life generally, not just within a sports environment.”

The University provides sports students with access to a wide range of programmes, expert lecturers, industry placements and graduate opportunities.