Super League referee Chris Kendall joins NHS volunteer army while furloughed

Super League ref Chris Kendall has gone from handing out penalties at Old Trafford to delivering food parcels to the vulnerable in his local area.

Last year’s Grand Final official is part of an RFL match officials department that was furloughed at the start of the month with rugby league suspended.

But instead of putting his feet up at home, Kendall has signed up to local and NHS volunteer services so that he’s blowing the whistle on people struggling in his area.

Kendall explained: “Both myself and my girlfriend Sarah were in the fortunate position that we’ve been furloughed so we’re still receiving 80 percent of our wages. We’re both healthy and felt a responsibility to do something.

“We felt a bit helpless at first doing nothing so this is our way to give a little back. Our local council in Kirklees had put a scheme in place to try and take a little bit of pressure off the NHS one, for people needing not necessarily prescriptions but other things.

“So we’ve been doing some shopping and taking magazines round to a few of our neighbours, that kind of thing.

“We’re now on the NHS app as well, which sends us a notification if there’s somebody who can’t get to a pharmacy or buy essential items because they can’t or should’t leave the house.”

Graphic designer Sarah has also been helping to ensure that Kendall is staying in the kind of shape that will ensure he’s ready to return to the field whenever Super League is.

He added: “The referees haven’t got any set training to do while we’re furloughed but none of us are naive enough to think we can take our foot off the pedal.

“We know full well that when the season does kick back in it’s probably going to be full on for everybody.

“It’s been difficult because as refs we had our best ever season training with former Leeds forward Ian Kirke, and our collective testing was the best it’s been. We went into the season firing in terms of that and this has put a bit of a dampener on it.

“But I’ve been doing a lot of training with Sarah – we’re both very competitive and when we get onto the field near us we’re racing each other. Then at home we’ve been doing some strength stuff although that hasn’t been as easy with two playful labradors.

“It’s about trying to keep the fitness miles in your legs while you’re not in a training group, that’s the difficult thing.

“What I would say is that Ralph Rimmer and Steve Ganson at the RFL have been fantastic with us through all this, there’s been regular contact with us before and after being furloughed to check on our well being and families. We couldn’t have asked for better line managers.”

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