Spreaders to retire

Not entirely a shock but news from the RFU today:

Spreadbury retires from international game


October 18, 2007IRB Elite Referee panel member Tony Spreadbury has today announced his retirement from the test refereeing arena. The Englishman, who took charge of the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2007 between France and Argentina, will continue to officiate at domestic level.

Spreadbury, who is one of the game’s larger than life characters, has enjoyed an illustrious career. Since his international debut in 1990 the Englishman has presided over 41 senior test matches with his final appearance with the whistle coming in Montpellier when he took charge of the RWC 2007 Pool A match between South Africa and USA on September 30.

“Tony is one of the game’s unique personalities and his leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to the cause has been a huge inspiration to the next generation of referees coming through the system,” said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien.”As someone who has always commanded respect from his peers with his professional approach to the role, Tony’s retirement will leave a big hole in the IRB Elite Panel in terms of experience and presence. I know that I speak on behalf of all the elite match officials at Rugby World Cup and the IRB when I thank him for his excellent service,” added O’Brien.

RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew paid tribute to a referee whose consistency, durability and good humour made him a popular figure amongst the international refereeing fraternity.

“Tony has been one of the leading international referees for the best part of two decades and his retirement is indeed a big loss to the game. He always brought his own inimitable style to refereeing at the top level and his professionalism, dedication and performances have been a great credit to the RFU and the Elite Referees Unit. We look forward to seeing him returning to domestic service after the completion of Rugby World Cup.”

Spreadbury said that the time was right to bow of the international arena after a career than has spanned 17 years and two Rugby World Cups.

“I have enjoyed a wonderful time refereeing at elite level and have made many friends along the way. However after nearly two decades at the top of the game the time is right for me to step aside and let the talented young referees both in England and on the IRB Elite Panel take up the mantle. I would like to thank all those who have supported me along the way, including my family, colleagues, the RFU and the IRB.”

“It will be strange departing the international scene, but I regard this as the end of the chapter and not the book. I still have a passion for the whistle and will continue to officiate at domestic level and am looking forward to returning to Premiership action following the completion of RWC,” added Spreadbury.

Colin High, the RFU Elite Referees Manager, also underlined the unique contribution of the 45-year-old from Bath.

“Tony has been an outstanding ambassador for refereeing, of the game and for the RFU throughout his distinguished international career,” said High.

“Spreaders enjoys refereeing more than anyone I’ve ever met. His enthusiasm, ability to communicate with players and his unrivalled knowledge built up over 30 years have helped him take charge of the biggest games in world rugby.

“We’re looking forward to getting him back in action in the Guinness Premiership and beyond that I’m sure his vast experience will be of great benefit to elite refereeing in this country in the future. One thing’s certain, though. There’ll never be another one like him!”

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1 Comment

  1. Richard

     /  20 October, 2007

    What a man. A shame he’s retiring, as he’s been one of the best English referees to grace the international scene for a long time.

    Vale et salutant, Spreaders.


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