Andre Watson

2003-10-01 10:54

Sydney - Andre Watson once made a bet that he could do a better job than a referee during a school match. Little did he know that he would one day take control of a Rugby World Cup final, as he did in 1999 when Australia beat France 35-12 in Cardiff.

The 45 year old, who plays golf off a handicap of three, took up the challenge and started refereeing in 1987, making the South Africa RFU panel seven years later and his Test debut with Australia's 74-9 defeat of Canada in Brisbane on June 29 1996.

South Africa's leading referee has gone from strength to strength and among the other highlights on his CV are controlling the first Test between Australia and the British and Irish Lions in Sydney in June 2001 and a record six Currie Cup finals.

A civil engineer before becoming a professional referee, Watson has also taken charge of four of the eight Super 12 finals since 1996, including the last two showdowns won by Canterbury Crusaders and Auckland Blues respectively.

Watson, who in his youth played fly half for Transvaal Schools XV, the University of Stellenbosch and Witwatersrand University, now has more than 20 Tests to his name. (IRB)