The Furness area is fortunate to have a thriving rugby league scene, but none of this would be possible without having someone in the middle to keep control of the games.

What is most encouraging is the amount of youngsters who are interested in becoming referees and taking charge of matches at youth level right up to the open age category, where eight amateur clubs keep the flag flying in these parts.

In total, around 60 juniors will be taking part in the RFL Officials Course that began at Hindpool Tigers last Sunday and will continue across Barrow in the next few weeks.

The course is being helped along by the Barrow & District League and the Barrow Raiders' community programme, which has 15 enrolled from its sports leadership course and the Raiders Girls training sessions.

Barry Hartle, who is an RFL officials tutor and Cumbria development officer, said: "Before Terry Barker took over at the Barrow & District League and got me involved, although Terry is the biggest push of it all, the Barrow Referees Society was dying a death.

"I think they had about four or five referees and now we've got more than 20 in the Society - they're not all busy every weekend when the season is on, but we have lads in the National Conference League now, which is a good step up the ladder.

"The younger lads that have come through have been doing the academy games, which is a big learning curve for them and they've been getting exceptional reports."

The course began with a theory session at Hindpool, where Hartle took the kids through the laws of the game and the interpretations of them and the preparations a referee makes before a game and on a matchday.

There will be further sessions at Furness College and Furness Academy before a practical session takes place at Cavendish Park on Sunday, November 3.

Hartle is encouraged by the amount of girls on the course, saying: "This is what we're looking for. We're looking for more female referees because women's rugby league is becoming big now and we need lady referees instead of guys doing it all the time."