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Rugby Level 1 Match Officials Course instructor Jim Kautz (center) works through the proper hand signaling for new rugby officials during an all-day training course Saturday at Whitman College . Below: Kautz throws the ball into the hands of waiting officials-in-training to simulate a line out.

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Rugby referees really rugged

It’s their job to keep the game moving and the players safe.

WALLA WALLA — On a Whitman College field still moist from the Saturday morning mist, eight men readied themselves to make the switch from player to official for what some say is probably the toughest organized team sport.

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