Jackson: A top referee

Wed, 10 Aug 2016 21:13
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: If you watched the Final of Super Rugby, you know that the title is true.

Glen Jackson is a top referee; the Final between the Hurricanes and the Lions in the Wellington wet proved that.

It was, despite the elements, an excellent Final, which the Hurricanes deservedly won and it was a match wonderfully refereed. It almost seems surprising to say that as in many minds he is still a new referee. In fact he is in his seventh season as a first class referee, his sixth as a Super Rugby referee, and his fifth season as a Test referee. In 2015 he refereed at Murrayfield in the Six Nations and later at the Rugby World Cup hosted by England and the Final this year was his 53rd Super Rugby Match. His next Test, on 20 August 2016, will be South Africa vs Argentina in Nelspruit.

Jackson is in fact a seasoned rugby referee. He is the first New Zealander to both play and referee 100 first class matches, for he made a name for himself as a player.

A flyhalf, he played for Bay of Plenty, the Chiefs, the New Zealand Maori, Saracens and the Barbarians - everything a player could wish for, bar only the All Blacks. And there was success. When he played for the Steamers, they won the Ranfurly Shield (2004). He played for the Chiefs from 1999 to 2004 when the Chiefs made the semifinal, losing to the Brumbies, the nearest Jackson had come to the Super Rugby Final till he blew the whistle in this year's. In 2004 he was in the New Zealand Maori team that won the Churchill Cup and in 2004, at the age of 28, he signed for Saracens, the powerful North London club. In 2006-07 he was the leading points' scorer in England's Premiership and was voted The Professional Rugby Players' Association player of the year. In 2010 he played for Saracens in the Final of the Premiership against Leicester Tigers. In 2009 he was elected a Barbarian. That is a considerable playing career.

But by then he was into his 30s and looking at some thing to do in rugby. He started refereeing with the Hertfordshire Referees' Society while still playing for Saracens and continued doing so when he came home to New Zealand in 2010. There he was encouraged and especially by Lyndon Bray, the Test referee who is now SANZAAR's game manager, and Bryce Lawrence who was then an active referee. Jackson's progress was swift, well-managed and acceptable.

He became a first class referee in 2010, a Super Rugby referee in 2011 and a Test referee in 2012. Of course, it was fast but it was also credible because he brought his own attributes to his refereeing - speed and fitness, a knowledge of the game and its players, a calm and gentlemanly manner and accuracy in law application. In brief he became a top referee, and it is no wonder that he has been an example to other former players to choose refereeing after their playing days.

Off the field he has what referees used to call ambassadorial qualities - a presentable young man with a cheerful, friendly, humble demeanour that is a credit to his profession. It is no wonder that he is so highly regarded and the winner of New Zealand's Referee of the Year award, for the first time in 2012.

He said of the Final: "It was wonderful to referee the final and I felt extremely privileged to be part of the first Super 18 Final. Both teams had wonderful seasons and played very exciting and attacking styles. It was a shame the weather didn't play its part but it made it a very close and tight game."

Glen Warwick Jackson was born in Feilding (That's how the Colonel spelled his name), a farming centre on New Zealand's North Island, north of Palmerston North. He was educated at Otumoetai College, a big coed school in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. He is married to Fiona and they have two children, son Payton and daughter Ella.