Reason you started refereeing?
Having played at University and School, and then moving to Canberra from Sydney, I was looking for a club to continue playing. I saw a 1st grade Canberra referee, Kim Lees professionally for work and he convinced me that referees had the best seat in the house, didn’t train and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Apart from the “not training” advice, he was spot on. I also had this driven thought that I would be better than the last guy I saw in the middle, which certainly wasn’t true. The same thought process also led me to referee coaching.
Best on-field rugby highlights?
Hard to pick from the ten Parramatta v Penrith games, or nearly being blown up by a firework at the first Bledisloe Cup game in Melbourne at the MCG.
Seriously though, I enjoyed ARing when the international tour games came to Canberra or Melbourne and refereeing minor Rep games like Canada v Victoria, ACT v NSW Country etc.
The stories most told though are being knockout and sending myself to the blood bin 1 minute into a Shute Shield game Gordon v Eastwood at Chatswood having smashed my head on the cricket pitch. Also the Cooma v Army game at Cooma in the southern alps NSW, played in snow. It started with a ute arriving at kick off with the groom and his bride holding on at the back, the groom in time to perform the toss as captain then play in his suit, a rowdy wedding party crowd, ten thousand punches and port wine afterwards served by the schooner!
Best off-field rugby highlights?
I love the experience of travel that refereeing and referee coaching brings. It has taken me to all states across Australia, throughout the Pacific, several stops in Asia and also across the Ditch.
The smiles, snorkeling and sensational food and wine of Vanuatu, the homely comforts, drinks and farms of Canterbury, “Chic” bars of Melbourne, wineries of South Australia or Hawkes Bay, shopping/night life in Hong Kong and eating food of unknown origin in Seoul, dinners in the senior common room at St Andrew’s College and not to mention Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin. It’s hard to place just one highlight.
The great thing about all these experiences is the fun and friendship that endures.
Occupation and interests outside of rugby?
As an optometrist I cop plenty from the players and now the referees.
Main interest outside of Rugby is travel, wine, skiing and most importantly my family. I love to cook, especially Italian meals, I also have another business in retail opal jewellery, so I’m kept pretty busy.
Best refereeing advice you’ve been given?
When I retired from Refereeing, I told Brian Kinsey (Chairman of selectors at the time) that I was retiring and keen to give referee coaching a go. His advice to me was “That’s the best decision you’ve ever made Mick!”