WHEN rugby is able to return next season it will be a more colourful place thanks to the officials.

The close-contact nature of the sport means it has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Having curtailed the 2019/20 season, starting the next campaign still appears some way off.

They may not have any games to officiate at the moment, but the Oxfordshire Society of Rugby Football Referees sought to do something positive.

Following on from an initiative from other areas of the country, their members have clubbed together to order a special set of charity shirts.

They are a gesture of support for the NHS key workers who have been on the frontline of the battle against the virus.

The rainbow kits are designed as a lasting tribute to health workers and can be worn as an alternative match shirt when the new season eventually gets under way.

Each shirt has also included a £5 donation to the Oxford Hospitals Charity.

Several have already been on show during the referees’

pre-season training sessions.

Jim Holmes, president of the society, said, “It was fantastic to be able to support the Oxford Hospitals Charity through this difficult time and we hope the £170 raised will be able to help their activities in the coming months.

“Thanks have to go to SRG Elite Sportwear for manufacturing the shirts and of course to those who ordered them for this great cause.”

To find out more about refereeing rugby in Oxfordshire, visit oxfordshirerugbyreferees.co.uk.