Meet The Ref
I played my rugby at Newbury for 30 years and was so profoundly poor at it, they actually created an entirely new team specifically bad enough for me (played against Abbey RFC surprisingly frequently!). Unable to rely on ability (or my full 5’6” 11 stone stature), I built my reputation on being singularly the most unpleasant player on the pitch, starting fights with anybody that was so much bigger than me that they wouldn’t bother putting any effort into their retaliation.
It then occurred to me that my little big man syndrome could be put to better use by offending twice the number of people if I took up refereeing.
I wasn’t actually all that bad at telling big blokes what they can’t do and after 15 years and a world record 550 matches for the Berkshire society under my belt, I have achieved mid-level mediocracy and find that brazening my way out of match changing blunders comes naturally to me.
At merely 58 years old, I’m falling apart rapidly and having to put huge amounts more work into passing my annual stamina test, but I’m proud that I made level 17.7 on the Yo-Yo last season and I would happily go toe to toe against any youngling ref on a 50 or 100 metre foot race. I finished last season in mid March, refereeing 4 matches in 5 days, culminating in having a Maidenhead 2nd team fat forward landing squarely on my knee and tearing the medial ligament. 3 days after that, I very sensibly went for my first pre-season run on the injury (as you do!) and, with the flailing knee fighting against the scar tissue on my Achilles tendon, tore my Soleus calf muscle to complete the full house. It’s a long road back from the physio bench but I lay down the usual challenge to my colleagues that if they want to take my level 6 status from me, they’re gonna have to take it from me ‘cus I aint giving it away’.