Ex-Players whistle their way into Team of Three

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By Community Rugby

Tomorrow evening, when the Reds and Sharks do battle in round 13 of Super Rugby, keeping an eye on proceedings will be referee Glen Jackson, and assistant referees Rohan Hoffmann and Graham Cooper.

At first glance they are your standard match officials. However on closer inspection and a quick Google search, it turns out that this team of three has a significant playing background and will understand more than most what the players are going through during those 80 minutes.
Jackson had a long professional rugby career as a fly half for the Chiefs and New Zealand Maori (1999-2004), and then Saracens (2004-2010). Since taking up the whistle, Jackson has refereed several Super Rugby games and made his Test debut last year for England v Fiji at Twickenham.
Of his switch in 2010, Glen says, “I probably could have kept on playing but decided the time was right to give refereeing a go. It’s certainly been challenging but I’m amazed how much support I’ve received from past and present Test referees. It’s been great.
“The biggest advantage as a recent player is knowing what players are trying to get out of the game. Hopefully that comes through in my approach as a referee.”
Hoffmann has travelled the world since starting his playing career with Brothers in Brisbane following his education at the great Rugby nursery of Marist College, Ashgrove. He initially played professional rugby in the UK before settling in Portugal, for whom he played 27 Test matches. He debuted as a referee in Super Rugby this year, and refereed last week’s Reds v Force game.
 “After retiring, I felt as an ex-player I could make a bigger contribution to the game as a referee rather than following the usual coaching pathway. It’s a great way to stay involved without the hits,” says Hoffmann.
Cooper is the youngest member of this team being selected in the Australian referee squad for the first time this year. He has played first grade Rugby in Perth after representing WA Schoolboys as a half-back.
“Being 22 years old when I made my decision to stop playing and become a referee was very difficult. Having played the game for 15 years it had become a very important part of my life,” Graham said.
“In saying that, I have thoroughly enjoyed the transition from playing to refereeing; it has allowed me to stay in the game both in a professional and social capacity. For those who are thinking about hanging up the boots, being in the best seat in the house is definitely worth a shot.”
Sometimes players think they can do a better job than the referee on the field. Here are three players who have put their money where their mouth is. They’re all loving it and doing a great job rising quickly through the ranks.
If you’d like to give refereeing a go, please contact Andrew Cole, National Referee Coach

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