Former Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson is set to become a professional referee after announcing his retirement as a player this season.
The 34-year-old's career came to an end following Harlequins' final game of the season against Northampton Saints last weekend which they went on to lose 22-20 at Franklin's Gardens.
Having joined the Quins from Bedford Blues in 2009, Dickson was part of club's 2011 Amlin Challenge Cup, the 2012 Aviva Premiership, and the 2013 Anglo-Welsh cup winning squads.
Having refereed at the Under-18 levels, Dickson has also gone on to officiate in two Premiership A League semi-finals and also the Championship clash between London Irish and Richmond in December and now will join RFU's game officials team.
"Over the last two years, any time that I have had - a free Saturday or Sunday, or even during the week - I would referee as many games as possible to get as much practice as I could," he said.
"It is an exciting new challenge. I've been part of a rugby team for so long and now get to keep that team environment, but with a different group. It will be different for me, but it is very exciting."
Former international referee and head of RFU's game officials Tony Spreadbury believes Dickson has all the right attributes needed to be successful at this level.
"I have been impressed by Karl's commitment, his attitude and his desire to go all the way in refereeing.
"His experience at scrum-half means he understands and has a good connection with both forward and back play.
"We think he is an exciting prospect, and has the skills to progress up the ladder.
"It is great that he has chosen refereeing as a post-playing career and took the initiative to qualify before retiring. We hope that he will be a role model for others."