The Manawatu Rugby Refeere's Association ( INC ) was first formed in 1895. However, like the Manawatu Rugby Football Union it went into recess at the end of the century. In 1902 both the referee association and rugby union were reformed. In 1914 both the association and the rugby union again went into recess ( due to WW1 ) until 1918 when they emerged again.A.M Hunt & A.W Thompson were responsible for the reformation of the association and it has continued to the present day.
Club rugby was first played in the Manawatu in 1882 and it appears that the clubs provided thier own referee's ( then known as " Umpires " ) . Two of the were A Drew ( 1882-1884 ) and J Moffat ( 1886 ) of the Palmerston Football club.
Reprsentitive rugby also commenced in 1882 with a game between Manawatu-Oroua and Wanganui combined clubs and was umpired by H.L Sherwill. These teams continued toplay each other in 1883 & 1884. The first Manawatu Rep. game was played against Wanganui and was umpired by C. Pratt.
In 1891 linesmen were appointed to assist the referee, the first of these was Mr R Olliphant. A similar appointment was given to W. Randell in 1893. In 1891 A.J Weeks went on to refereed Canterbury against Wellington, so it appears neutral referee's were used in those days.
In 1894 A.J Weeks refereed the New South Wales team against Manawatu-Wanganui. A.J Weeks went on to referee six rep games between 1891 and 1897.
The Rev C.C. Harper was our first referee to control a visiting international team. He refereed Manawatu-Hawkes Bay ( the first Central Vikings arrangement? ) against Australia in 1905 and agaist the Anglo-Welsh in 1908. He was also our first referee to control a North Island v South Island game in 1902.
A.B Charters also refereed the Anglo-Welsh in 1908 and was also appointed to do a second game , Anglo-Welsh v Auckland. The Anglo-Welsh team sailed from New Plymouth aboard the " Rarawa " and arrived in Onehunga without any problems. Unfortunately Mr Chartes was not so lucky. He was due to sail the nest day aboard the " Takapuna " but a heavy gale raged along the West Coast of the North Island. The night, as balck as thunder, with heavy seas the bar was impassable. No boats ventured out and the Takapuna stayed in dock. A.B Charters had to return home without refereeing his game.