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BOOK REVIEW: Mister Ref - The Max Baise story

It is a story that takes us from ┼Żagare in northern Lithuania to Hoopstad north of Bloemfontein in the Free State. The referee story takes us from the Outspan Hotel in Odendaalsrus to Ellis Park in Johannesburg, from a chance meeting to the famous fourth Test of 1974.


It is a great story and reminds us older folk of the rugby in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s and also of the opportunities that South Africa gave people and denied people in those days.

The Odendaalsrus meeting is astonishing. Two cousins, adult children of Jewish immigrants, living in the Northern Free State, two men keen on rugby, went for a beer at the Outspan Hotel. There they saw many cars, asked the barman what was happening and was told there was a referees' meeting. Max suggested to cousin Solly that they became referees. They both became Test referees. In fact they both refereed Tests in the same series when the Wallabies toured South Africa in 1969. It is a great story.

The autobiography takes us through his playing career – a centre for Free State Schools while at the Blouskool in Kroonstad – and on through his refereeing career. He goes through his great career as a special referee, one who brought much personality to a dour job, in a sense the forerunner of the modern refereeing.

Most interestingly there is a great deal on that fourth Test in 1974 when the Springboks and the B&I Lions drew 13-all and Baise's part in it – especially awarding a try for what Roger Uttley did and not awarding one for what Fergus Slattery did. There are forewords to the book written by Uttley and Slattery

It's certainly a book worth having and in it those who know Baise will hear his voice clearly – a charming, generous, warm, courteous man who knew what he was doing and loved doing it.

those were different times and in his great career he refereed seven Tests, the second  most ever by a South African referee – and he did not get a penny for doing it. His rewards was loving what he did so well.


It is fully Baise's book. He wrote it, he published it and he is selling it with R25 from very book sold going to the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson fund for seriously injured players.

The book will be launched at the Olympic Sports Club in Rondebosch on Wednesday, 24 February 2016. Max will be there and the evening, kicking off at 17.30, is open to all. Ladies are welcome in the club.

Title: Mister Ref. Test referee Max Baise's story

By Max Baise, edited by Amanda Botha

Published by Max Baise

192 pages

Soft cover


Illustrated in black and white throughout


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