Reason you started refereeing?
I was required to referee as part of my job as a teacher at The Scots College, and when I retired from playing the game, I chose refereeing and not team coaching, because I very much enjoyed the schoolboy level experience I’d had.
Best on-field rugby highlights?
My first test match – Argentina v Scotland in BA in 1994. The game seemed to be over too quickly; I remember the scrum contest, an argument about the length of sprigs worn by the Pumas, coming onto the playing surface via an underground tunnel and the sensation that the rest of the match flew by in front of me!
My first RWC match – NZ v Ireland, at Ellis Park, Jo’burg in 1995. The Irish played out of their skins for 30 minutes, squeezed the life out of the Blacks and led easily as we came towards half time. I awarded a penalty to NZ, and went over to an exhausted looking Sean Fitzpatrick who was bent double with his hands on his knees and asked him what he wanted to do.
He said, “Gus, I’ve got no idea. Any suggestions?” When I laughed and said, “Sorry, mate”, he said, “How long do you think this madness is going to go on?”
Not long after this, Irish fullback Jimmy Staples suffered a shocking compound fracture of a finger taking a high ball, Jonah Lomu scored two tries carrying a couple of green men over the line with him, and the Blacks skipped away to win easily.
All of this prompted the great Irish referee Stephen Hilditch to suggest at the referees’ informal debrief in the pub that evening that the next law change Ireland should sponsor should be to reduce the playing time to 2x15 minute halves!
Best off-field rugby highlights?
Among a million memories from across the rugby world, our Oz team of three travelling through England and happening upon a remarkable array of unforgettable experiences, enjoying each other’s company and sharing the highs and lows in our quest for the best blackboard menu-ed, red-checked gingham tablecloth-ed, local music-playing, outside courtyard-ed pub-caf in Britain!
…and anything with Derek Bevan in it!
Occupation and interests outside of rugby?
I’m the Principal of St Andrew’s College, a residential academic community within the University of Sydney, which has provided a home on campus for students and Fellows of the University for almost 150 years. The role is wonderfully rewarding and keeps me very busy.
Family is most important to me, and I have a wonderful wife (Debra), daughter (Whitney) and grand-daughter (Allegra). I love the music of the Enlightenment – particularly the opera form – and also delight in watching young people strive for excellence in whatever they are good at.
…and watching the Wallabies, the Baggy Greens and any other Oz team smash the Poms.
Best refereeing advice you’ve been given?
Never forget that we are the true guardians of our Game, because the Game is really only a manifestation of the Spirit of the Game, and who else will guard, nurture and secure its spirit other than us? It’s your sacred duty – it means that much.