Joubert hangs up his XVs whistle

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:01

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Craig Joubert, one of the world's top referees over a number of years, is giving up refereeing. Paul Dobson reports.

He is no longer going to be refereeing 15-man on the field but it is certainly not the end of his involvement in an art in which he has excelled.

World Rugby has created a new post - the Referee Talent Development Coach.

The post was advertised, Joubert applied and after two interviews he was offered the position and accepted it. He describes it as a dream job.

Joubert sees this as a great opportunity even if it has come a little earlier than he anticipated - with the B&I Lions tour to New Zealand next year and the 2019 World Cup. But it has meant that he can leave refereeing on his own terms - important for a happy life after refereeing.

Craig's son Max is at Highbury, the preparatory school in Hillcrest as  leaves fas the road leaves Durban for Pietermaritzburg. Max is starting to play rugby and cricket and his father would like to be there and his father can because he will now be free to do so on most weekends of the year, for the family will continue to live in Durban.

Joubert will be most involved in Sevens rugby and so, will work with Paddy O'Brien who is World Rugby's manager of Sevens referees and one of those in the process that selected Joubert. Joubert first came to the world's notice through the Sevens and his Sevens career took him to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.  He will continue to referee Sevens - and just possibly the odd schools game.

Joubert turned 39 this year. There is enough in his mind and body to have taken him to the 2019 World Cup, but it has been a long career.

Joubert's father Des was a provincial referee and so son, Craig, was introduced to refereeing at a young age. His father was a popular man with a great love of rugby, and it is no surprise that son Craig has also been able to show calm and good manners on the field of play with remarkable athleticism which brought him quickly and apparently effortlessly to the right place.

Then Maritzburg College, where he was at school, had created opportunities for the development of schoolboy referees. Ian Rogers was one of them and he went on to referee at a World Cup.

Craig Joubert is their other graduate to go referee at a World Cup, two World Cups in fact, including refereeing the 2011 Final in New Zealand.

Joubert joined the Midlands Referees' Society in KwaZulu-Natal when he was 18, the year he met his wife, Charmaine and at University where he obtained a bachelor of commerce degree and then an honours degree in business finance. He then had five years in Standard Corporate and Merchant Banks corporate banking division, after which he became a full-time referee.

In 2001, Joubert started on the Sevens World Series of matches around the world, referee 12 Finals, including the Final of the Sevens World Cup in Hong Kong in 2005.

In 2003, Joubert refereed his first Currie Cup match - Griquas v Pumas in Kimberley - and his first Test -  Namibia vs Uganda in Windhoek. In 2005, he refereed his first Super Rugby match - Waratahs vs Chiefs

Now he ends his career after 69 Tests matches refereed and over 100 Super Rugby matches, including three finals. He has also refereed two Currie Cup Finals.

Clearly, there is a depth of experience and a width of education which could well benefit young, promising referees.

By Paul Dobson
@rugby365com