Only Aussie in the Super Rugby final

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

No Australian players will be holding up the Super Rugby trophy this week, but the final won’t be devoid of an Aussie influence.

Referee Angus Gardner will be one of the touch judges in the match, with Glen Jackson the main referee, in his first Super Rugby decider and making him the first Australian-born referee to be involved in the final since 2010.

Gardner has ticked off plenty of milestones this season, including refereeing in Six Nations and a thrilling South Africa-Ireland Test in the June Internationals.

The latter of those two was the highlight of his season so far, with a tight South African comeback.

“At half-time at Ellis Park the Springboks were booed off and then they came back and won it with that try in the final minutes, it was pretty incredible to be part of that," he said.

The Aussie whistle-blower has officiated every Super Rugby team and been to all bar one venue - Newlands Stadium, Cape Town - as a head referee.

Gardner (middle) after the Springboks-Ireland Test. Photo: SuppliedGardner’s not too worried about being on the sideline for the clash, able to absorb more of the contest.

“It's not too bad being a touch judge for these, because you aren’t as involved in what’s going to so you get to take more in,” he said.

“For a referee, those free-flowing games are the best because it takes you out of the equation a bit more.”

The final is just the beginning of another busy month for him, with Gardner the only Australian referee appointed to a Rugby Championship game, officiating the All Blacks and Springboks on September 17.

That is an achievement he had not anticipated, even when he received the email from World Rugby referees boss Allain Rolland.

“I was shocked, really,” he said.

“When you get those you open them with bated breath to see where you’re included and it’s going to be a really exciting opportunity.”

Wife, Nicole, is pregnant with the couple’s second baby just eight days later as well, adding an extra element to that period.

The Hurricanes take on the Lions on Saturday afternoon at 5:35pm AEST.