Dan Bullen and Matt Pryke have completed their Level 2 (National) Referees qualification after passing their practical assessments during the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships.

It follows the duo, who are both members of St Neots TTC, passing their 85-minute written exam during the recent WTT Feeder Manchester.

Dan Bullen (left) and Matt Pryke are interviewed by MC Andy Ashworth at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships

The exam included a series of questions on rule interpretations and then an exercise to work out a particularly tough round-robin group results calculation.

Here is one of the questions they had to answer – do you know the answer? (Scroll to the bottom of the page to see if you are correct!)

After the 1st game of a match, Player A changes his racket without informing the umpire or his opponent and then, after the 2nd game, he reverts to his original racket, again without telling anyone.

Before the 3rd game starts another player who has been watching the match tells the umpire what has happened and, when challenged, player A admits to it. The umpire reports the matter to you as acting referee.  Would you:

  • A: Warn player A, but allow the match to continue with him using the original racket
  • B: Warn player A, and order the 2nd game to be replayed with player A using the original racket
  • C: Disqualify player A for unfair behaviour
  • D: Something else

Dan said: “It’s really a three-to-four-year process. We have to start as a Level 1 Umpire and then become a Level 1 Referee and then have two years as a Level 1 Umpire to be able to qualify as a Level 2 Umpire. And then two years at that level before you can become a Level 2 Referee.”

The 26-year-old, who competed for England at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, added: “I’m out injured at the moment, so it’s keeping me in the sport. I enjoy the sport so much that I want to give back, and being a National Referee will allow me to give back at the big events.”

Matt, who is a student at the University of Nottingham, said: “It’s a lot of researching different rules that you normally wouldn’t know about – as a player, you’re just taught the basics and don’t know the logistics of what goes on behind the scenes.”

Both Dan and Matt credit International Referees Stuart Sherlock, who refereed the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and Karen Tonge OBE, who was in charge at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, for helping them on their journeys.

Dan Bullen at the referees’ desk alongside Stuart Sherlock (right, nearest camera)

The two are setting their sights high about how far their qualifications can take them – Dan would like to referee the Paralympics one day, while Matt is aiming for the Olympics.

Dan said: “We’ve got some great mentors in this country, such as Stuart and Karen, who can help us achieve that.”

Are you interested in becoming a table tennis official? Click here to find out how to start your journey as an umpire or referee.

Answer: C – disqualify Player A.