Former players celebrate at Weston

The 20th anniversary of the Past Players Association at Weston Rugby Club saw more than 70 players attend a lunch.

MORE than 70 former players attended a lunch in the Weston clubhouse before the game to mark the 20th anniversary of the Past Players Association where the 1995 Rugby World Cup referee Ed Morrison was the guest speaker.

Bristol-born Morrison was the Rugby Football Union’s RFU’s first full-time professional referee in 1998 and after retiring from active officiating in 2001, took on a referee development role within the union.

He was formally appointed Development Manager in the newly formed Elite Referee Unit in 2003 and between July 2008 and September 2013 he was the RFU’s Head of Elite Referee Development.

Morrison remains the only Englishman to referee a Rugby World Cup final, taking charge of the iconic 1995 showpiece when Joel Stransky kicked South Africa to a 15-12 victory over New Zealand and Nelson Mandela presented Francois Pienaar with the trophy.

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Reflecting on a life involved in rugby, Morrison said: “Rugby has been such a huge part of my life, initially as a player and as a referee and latterly working to ensure that officiating constantly improves so that the professional game continues to flourish.

“A couple of days before the Rugby World Cup final I had a phone call in my hotel room inviting me to have tea with President Mandela. At first I thought it was a wind-up before I was told the error of my ways.”

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Morrison recalled found memories of both playing against Weston and also refereeing, as a member of the Bristol Referees Society, the club over the years as well as reflecting on his experiences.

He added: “I have also received a very warm welcome when I have been to the Weston club and, on many occasions when I have been refereeing, many were glad to see the back of me.”

Morrison is part of a small working group within the Bristol Referees Society preparing a short DVD as part of the promotion to recruit more referees. The group will be going around the 37 Bristol Combination clubs as part of the drive.

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