Wellington to Vegas with Stu Berry

2010-03-06 00:00

STU Berry, currently one of SA’s top ranked referees, has recently returned from Sevens duty on the IRB World Circuit, and Weekend Witness caught up with him to see how his travels and rugby went … and how he manages to lead a balanced life between his refereeing and his company obligations.

Weekend Witness: This paper has followed your career through the rugby ranks with some interest over the years, from your days as a student at UKZN through to now, and it was great to be able to report late last year that you had been appointed to the IRB Sevens Circuit. What did that appointment mean to you?

Stu Berry: I think getting onto the IRB Sevens Circuit is foremost a great opportunity to get used to international travel, as well as international rugby and the professional setup. My aim is to use this circuit as an opportunity to launch myself towards higher honours in the 15-man game, and the Sevens circuit provides me with the exposure to be able to do that. The commitment means I have to manage my time well as my company, Impi Concept Events, is another passion of mine … we are staging the Johnny Clegg concert at Woodburn.

The IRB Circuit travels around the world. Which of the legs have you attended and where next?

I have just completed my first two legs, namely Wellington (NZ) and Las Vegas (USA), and I will be going to the last two as well — in London and Edinburgh.

The Wellington/Vegas legs must be the two that players and referees want to attend the most?

Yip, without a doubt. Wellington has to be the biggest rugby fancy dress party in the world. Thirty five thousand people packed into the Westpac Stadium, all dancing solidly for eight hours — just the most awesome atmosphere I have ever experienced. Las Vegas is one of those places that you generally just get to see in movies and hear so much about. The crowds were great there as well, and the experience of being in Vegas was superb — from the lifestyle to the shows, gambling and the entertainment. It was really a great place to tour.

You were lucky enough to get a cucup semi between England and Fiji in Wellington, and then tell us how your Las Vegas tournament unfol­ded.

Yip, the semi in Wellington was great. It was well beyond my expectations, and to have two great rivals of Sevens rugby in my first semi was a great occasion for me. Even though I had a semi in Wellington, I hadn’t really changed my goals for the Vegas tournament, and maintained that just going out there and refereeing the tackle and breakdown accurately would hopefully do enough in creating a really good impression of my capabilities. I was lucky enough to be appointed to the final, between New Zealand and Samoa, and it certainly rates as one of my most memorable occasions to date. A superb, tough game of Sevens rugby, in which two intercept tries secured the win for Samoa.

Where to from here?

In the near future I’ll be called upon in the Super 14 to run touch and probably a few Vodacom Cup games, and then basically prepare for the last two legs of the Sevens at the end of May. Commonwealth Games take place in September, and Sevens is a part of the games, so I would really like to get appointed to those games … obviously being able to ref the final there would be a highlight in anyone’s career.

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