André Watson's autobiography
The story of a great referee
André Watson, the only man to have refereed two Rugby World Cup Finals, has written his autobiography which makes its appearance now, at a time when books by rugby people seem fashionable.
It is the story of a remarkable refereeing career which started inauspiciously and grew to take him to many parts of the world before huge audiences, winning him both praise and opprobrium.
The book deals with his growing up and then his own family with the tensions of being a well-known referee on the move caused.
It tells incredible stories of great matches, especially the two RWC Finals – the announcement, which not all referees applauded, the preparation, the nerves, the match and then the aftermath, including Clive Woodward's criticism in the wake of 2003.
It tells of the friendships he has made through refereeing, places visited in a career that started in the Eastern Transvaal town of Leandra and ended with the Currie Cup Final in Pretoria.
There is lots in it to reveal the human side of refereeing – the ambition, the effort, the anxiety, the competitiveness – the sheer humanity of it all.
There are fun stories and there are tense moments. What do you do when a captain threatens to take his team from the field in a RWC Final? And what do you do when a player gives you a red card? What do you do when a muscle goes just before a big match? What do you do when new boots cause agony? How do you handle criticism? How does your family handle criticism of you?
The book is not in the genre of telling stories out of school or blowing the whistle on fellow-referees. But it is not a book that shies away from controversy of himself or others. There are clashes.
It is a story and not an instruction manual, but there is much in it that could be of help to aspirant referees.
It has many photographs, including that bird's eye view of a scrum in the 2003 RWC final.
The book of 208 pages is published by Don Nelson and entitled simply 'André Watson. The Autobiography.'