04th Aug 2015

Hong Kong referee Tim Baker was selected by World Rugby to attend the 2015 Talent Optimisation Camp (TOP Camp) for referees in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The weeklong camp, based at the South African Academy of Sport in Stellenbosch, brought participants from 22 nations together for an intensive programme of specialized and advanced instruction for Match Officials.

Tim, who moved to Hong Kong 18 months ago, has rapidly established himself within the rugby community as an outstanding match official, quickly rising through the ranks to become the top referee in Hong Kong.

The local recognition of his abilities came to the attention of Asia Rugby, who appointed him to both the Asia Rugby Sevens Series and the Asia Rugby Championship. Baker is now ranked as the number one match official in Asia.

In Stellenbosch, Baker was put through his paces both on and off the field, as these days being a match official is not solely about how the referee performs on the field but is also determined by how they interact away from the field.

The week was broken down into practical sessions and theory, with Top Camp presentations on the technical elements of the game such as Scrums, Tackles and the Lineout right as well as individualised programmes for participants on a variety of areas including managing pressure and the importance of setting individual goals.

The physiological demands on match officials during matches requires mental fortitude to be able to deal with pressure once the final whistle is blown and Baker received some particularly useful tips to compliment his quiet demeanor during the camp.

The programme also places significant emphasis on match officials being honest with themselves when something goes wrong in the middle; focusing on identifying the issues and enhancing one's understanding and ability to learn from the experience.

Tim's selection for the TOP camp is an indicator that all of the hard work that HKRFU Head of Match Officiating Hugh Watkins has put in over the last 12 months is paying dividends - not only in Hong Kong and Asia but increasingly on the world stage.

Tim's next goal is to be appointed by World Rugby to the Junior World Trophy in 2016, a recognition that is very achievable after impressing the selectors with his outstanding performance over the week in South Africa.

"Tim has worked exceptionally hard on his game over the last six months, and this has shown in his performances in the Asia Rugby Championship. Tim has a big future ahead of him if he continues to work hard," said Hugh Watkins.

Watkins also added that there is a wealth of talent in Hong Kong and they need an opportunity to produce the goods on the World Rugby stage.

The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and the Hong Kong Society of Rugby Football Union Referees are proud of Tim Baker's most recent achievement and look forward to more Hong Kong match officials being appointed to the highest levels of the game.