THE Rugby Southland Referees Association celebrated its 125-year jubilee last weekend.
Festivities started on Friday night when past and present members gathered with supporters at the referees’ clubrooms at Rugby Park.
The association had their first blazer presentation, where 25 blazers were presented to life members and referees who had controlled 50 and 100 senior games.
On the Saturday night 115 people attended a dinner at the Ascot Park Hotel.
Dick Tayler was the guest speaker at the gathering. Taylor won a gold medal in the 10,000-metre event at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch.
Two of Southland’s former international referees, David Bishop and Keith Brown, also shared some of their rugby memories.
After a barbecue lunch on Sunday, the referees made up a rugby team of their own and played a game against the Stuffed Hawks in the snow at Surrey Park. The 15-5 victory for the refs closed the curtain on a superb weekend of celebrations.
One of Southland’s current top referees, Kirk Rae officiated in his 100th premier grade club match this season, which doubled as his 170th senior game. Rae has reffed at every ground in the province except Otautau and Pukerau.
Roger Hyde officiated in his 200th senior game this year. Hyde has travelled countless kilometres from Te Anau to referee around Southland for 29 seasons.
Nathan Lyall also reached a significant milestone this year controlling his 100th senior game. Lyall is in his third year as chairman of management with Rugby Southland Referees and helped organise the Jubilee.
Encouraging senior players to get into refereeing is something Lyall tries to do after the games. uptake we’ve had from high school students and females has helped but we are always keen for more. It is a great way to be involved in rugby and great for your fitness, it is a really rewarding role.
Referee coaches play an important role in the organisation; Murray Jarvis has been involved with Southland rugby refereeing for 50 years and his services were acknowledged during the weekend. Jarvis’ 6-year-old grandson James aims to referee once he retires from playing.