Tweeting ref gives up

Fri, 19 Apr 2013 14:26
Hugh-watkins General-ballscurrie-630
Sorry that's a shocker

Hugh Watkins of Wales, after 20 years as a referee, has severed his ties with refereeing after the Welsh Rugby Union suspended him for 12 weeks for being critical of a referee on Twitter.

Watkins was a senior referee in Wales and then became an international assistant referee and then an international TMO. He was at the 2007 World Cup in France as an assistant referee and a TMO.

According to the ESPNscrum website while Watkins was watching the Final of the Hong Kong Sevens, which Fiji won 26-19 after being 19-0 down at one stage, there was a dangerous tackle of the tip kind by Ilai Tinai of Fiji on Lee Williams of Wales. Tinai received a yellow card while Watkins considered a red card more appropriate.

Watkins tweeted: "Sorry that's a shocker. Had to be red no other option. We need referees to be consistent in this".

Watkins, who turns 50 in September, later received an e-mail from the Welsh Rugby Union asking him to attend a disciplinary hearing. Watkins wrote to the WRU declining to attend and tendering his resignation from the WRU and its activities. He said about the request to attend the hearing: "I didn't want to attend the hearing. I felt it was unnecessary."Subsequent to that Watkins received a letter from the WRU telling him he had been suspended from refereeing activities until 1 September 2013.

Watkins is angry at the suspension and "how it has been handled for someone who has given 20-years service for the WRU and I feel, as a manager myself, a little word or telephone call was warranted - just to say 'I think the comments were inappropriate'. But there was nothing to do with that, it was just a straightforward letter."

Watkins will not appeal the decision and is upset at how the incident has brought an end to his career. He had hoped to take on a television match official role, but instead he will just walk away and let the matter be.

"It's sad but I walk away having given a lot of service, in terms of 20 years officiating, but I'll just put the matter to rest now," he told ESPNscrum.

Watkins got support from Welsh prop Adam Jones who tweeted: "Maybe If the WRU worried about themselves and the regions sorting their crap out and not banning a ref for tweeting we may get somewhere!"

There is the side that believes that Watkins has broken an accepted code by criticising a fellow referee in public when no good could be acheived by such criticism.