Hartley, who played for Haywards Heath since the u8s, has been refereeing for one year and has now been promoted.
He started at Level 13 (Sussex 3) before being promoted to Level 9 this season (Sussex 1).
And the passionate Hartley would recommend anyone getting into officiating the game. He said: “I absolutely recommend people get into refereeing. It’s a great way of testing yourself physically and mentally. It helps you to make quick and accurate decisions and keep a good standard of fitness.
“I wanted to continue to be involved in the game at a good level after hanging up my playing boots, and refereeing gives me an opportunity to do that.”
Hartley hopes his next move is in to the South East Leagues - which would see him reach Levels 6-8.
To get into refereeing, Hartley had to officiate in the mini (u12s) the RFU run a level 1 course, above the RFU level 2.
Hartley added: “There is then the opportunity to join the Sussex Rugby Referee Society and to receive professional development, coaching, and mentoring. It is a well structured and supportive environment.”
And newly qualified refs to get monitored. Harrtley said: “Re-gradings happen frequently and referees who show potential are fast tracked through the leagues.
“After refereeing for the local Society, a referee moves up to the South East Federation, then the Southern Group and ultimately the National Panel.”
Hartley also believes, like in most sports, it helps to have played the game . He said: “I think having played the game helps a referee to build empathy with the players and understand what to look for in certain situations.
“Referees who have played at a good standard have normally spent a long time around the game, know the laws well, understand the motivation of players and are able to read the play.”
Rugby has always had a reputation of well-behaved players and respect for the men in charge.
Has that been Hartley’s experience? He said: “Players do call me Sir and the vast majority of the time display good discipline and respect.
“Players value consistency and active communication and I find that if they see you as being competent and clear, they value that."
And Hartley’s one but of advice to people thinking of becoming a rugby referee? “Know the laws of the game better than the players and the spectators!”
For more information of refereeing courses in Sussex - visit www.englandrugby.com/my-rugby/courses