Newly crowned world referee of the year Angus Gardner says displaying confidence to players under fire is the most important part of being a top whistle-blower.
Gardner was Australia’s only award winner at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on Monday, when he became the first Aussie ever to be named the world’s top referee.
The prestigious award capped a career-best season for Gardner became the first Australian since 1996 to handle the Super Rugby final, handled a number of huge Tests and won his fourth consecutive Australian referee of the year as well.
In accepting the award, Gardner gave an insight into his success by revealing how important displaying confidence is to keeping control at the elite levels of rugby.
“It’s all about confidence and I think players pick up on your confidence when you’re out there in the middle,” Gardner said.
“If you come in in a confident but not an arrogant manner, people are much more likely to follow where you are heading.”
Gardner, 34, became one of the youngest individual to receive the World Rugby Referee Award. He started his professional Super Rugby refereeing debut in 2012, and handled his first Test in 2011 at the Oceania Cup.
Gardner has now refereed 61 Super Rugby matches and 16 Test Matches.
But with a boyish look, Gardner struggled early in his career with perceptions he was too young to be refereeing at the elite level.
His focus on being assertive has paid off, however, and along with being appointed to top Test matches in the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, Gardner’s award shows he is highly regarded at the top levels.
Gardner didn’t get picked to be a referee at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
But he has his sights firmly set on the 2019 World Cup in Japan, and hopes he can not only be selected but handle some of the finals, as well.
“If I’m fortunate enough to get selected at the business end of that tournament would be amazing,” Gardner said.