Ref Kirkpatrick crosses the divide

The 42-year-old decided against becoming one of rugby league’s first ever group of full-time referees to stay in his current job, but was left off the Super League list with six full-time officials ahead of him.

"It's something that's never been done before and it's got my adrenalin going," he said. "Just like Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell and coaches crossing over, it's a question of taking a structured path."

Kirkpatrick – who has only refereed in the Northern Rail Cup so far this season – was sounded out by the Rugby Football Union before taking charge of last season’s engage Super League Grand Final.

He is now preparing for life in rugby union at West Park RUFC in St Helens, and is taking advice from former Wigan Warriors coach Dennis Betts, who is now working at Gloucester.

RFL match officials director Stuart Cummings said: "Karl has enjoyed a very successful career as a grade-one match official and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him as well as wishing him all the very best for the future.”

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