Rugby union referee Graham Cook (left) and young soccer referee Luke Mackney compare rule books.
Rugby union referee Graham Cook (left) and young soccer referee Luke Mackney compare rule books.

Cook crosses codes to soccer

SOCCER: In the 21st century code-hopping has become commonplace, but it isn’t just limited to professional footballers.

First there was rugby league’s Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and Sonny Bill to rugby union, and Karmichael Hunt to AFL; now the Far North Coast’s top rugby union referee, Graham Cook, can be added to the list.

Cook has refereed 20 consecutive rugby grand finals, more than 500 competition matches and represented Australia as an official at the 2009 Hong Kong Sevens and Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Now the 46-year-old is turning his hand to soccer.

One of Cook’s four daughters plays the round ball game and after years as a spectator the Lismore local has decided to apply his skills across the divide.

And he sees no reason why he, or anyone else for that matter, can’t be a success.

While the two sports are poles apart in terms of gameplay, Cook insists that the majority of referee skills are transferable.

“Knowing the laws and having an understanding of a particular sport are just the basics,” Cook said.

And most of that can come from a book.

But over and above, referees in all sports share common attributes.

“Speed, fitness and positioning, while different across sports, are all required,” he said.

“And the greatest skill of all is the human nature skills which referees must perfect.”

He refers to dealing with the irate player, the furious coach or the scorned fan.

“That is the most important skill for a ref and if you get that right I don’t see why you can’t apply that across a range of sports,” he said.

Cook believes that any top referee should be able to transfer their trade across the codes, and with his record you would be mad to suggest that he won’t make a good fist of it.

Any budding whistleblowers keen to learn the tricks of the trade should contact Football Far North Coast with referees courses to be run on March 7 and 15.



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