(pictured right), who celebrated his 40th birthday last year with
his twin Andy, refereed the big World Cup semi-final game between
Australia and New Zealand, and if it had not have been for England
reaching the semi-finals, could have had the chance to referee
in the final.
He was one of three referees short listed for the final, but due
to England's great success in the competition, he did not get
the biggest job any rugby referee could ask for.
White had no regrets about missing the opportunity to referee
such a massive game. He said:
"I wanted England to be World Champions and I thought
they would be. I'm delighted to have done the semi-final and the
third and fourth place play-off, but if it's not meant to be,
it's not meant to be".
verses the All Blacks
versus New Zealand is one of the greatest fixtures in World Rugby,
let alone as a World Cup semi-final, and White spoke of his reaction
to being appointed for such a big match:
"It's not just the game itself, the moment you're told
about the appointment it sets off a number of emotions.
"You're delighted but also very nervous, just as a player
would be, about going to do a job, and getting it right, and the
margin for error is very, very small. It really becomes a buzz,
and when you get out onto the pitch, hopefully you've worked through
all those emotions and you're actually in a state of calm, and
just before kick-off, you're totally focused on what you're going
has come along way since his first game as a referee when he was
just 17-years old, and the thought of refereeing as an occupation
had never entered his mind.
"It was completely by chance. I went to a pub of all places
when I was 17 on a Friday night, relaxing from A-Level studies
and I was talked into refereeing a game between two local third
teams on the Saturday.
"I borrowed my dad's whistle, he was a teacher and I didn't
have any other whistle so off we went. I still remember the game
now, Cheltenham Saracens won by 15 points to 12, and I was rewarded
afterwards - they took me back to the bar and bought me a couple
of pints of shandy, and I think £2 expenses were given to
me as well, which I didn't expect".
After that White went on to referee more games.
"Then I would referee where anyone wanted me after that,
whether it was junior rugby, ladies rugby, whatever".
White's playing days
becoming an official, White was a player for Cheltenham, playing
games against the likes of Northampton, Bristol, Gloucester and
Bath, until an injury on his shoulder slowed his playing career
"I was a player and that's definitely what I wanted to
do, but I was never going to reach the top level. It was quite
lucky actually, I had an injury when I was in my mid 20s, which
sent me into refereeing ten years younger than most people do".
When rugby referees started to become professional, White gave
up his job as a teacher at Prestbury primary school, as the demands
of refereeing got tougher. He said:
"As the players went professional they increasingly wanted
the game to be refereed by professionals - basically someone who
could practice all week and be available for all the fixtures,
so in the end it was a necessary decision".
with the increasing technology in rugby, it's still very difficult
to make the right decisions, and White is one of the World's best
at handling the pressure.
"There are different sorts of decisions you make when
you referee. One is a judgement decision, and you get that in
soccer quite often. Has the ball crossed the line for instance,
that is all about judgement. The other sort of decision during
the game is like how you referee the lineout throughout the whole
game. Have you got a big enough gap in the lineout and when refereeing
a tackle, which is a very difficult thing, are you refereeing
"TV replays put pressure on referees, as does having your
voice being listened to, then every word you say and every breath
you take is being recorded, and that makes it a lot harder because
it ups the standard of what is expected. There's less pressure
near the goal line to see the ball placed down, and you still
want to see it placed down yourself, but if you can't you can
make the box signal and away you go."
a professional referee White has had to travel all over the World
to referee a variety of games.
"One day you could referee Oxford versus Cambridge, the
next you might referee a top Zurich match, or an international,
the next week you could be doing a school match, so you get a
lovely variety of experiences.
"It's a continual job; one of the things you've got in my
job is that it's ten and a half months of the year. In the close
season you should basically be doing nothing for two weeks, or
perhaps longer than two, maybe three or four physically, and then
building up for the next season".
away so much has however made it difficult for White, spending
so much time away from his wife and son.
"My son is now ten, and I've missed about two years of
his life, not all in one go, but in weeks here and days there.
My wife used to play rugby so she understands, and she'll say
it's your job, but it can be very difficult".
White's son is following in the footsteps of his father with a
keen interest in rugby.
"It's his own interest, it's not me telling him what to
do, he wants to play for himself which I think is very important".
those few moments of spare time that Chris White has, he likes
to play cricket.
"It's nice to go on a pitch as part of a team, not to
make all the decisions, just to enjoy the camaraderie of being
part of a team. I found it to be a great relaxation away from
the pressures of the game, because if you do look over the fixtures
over a year, they are all pressure games."
by Robert Iles
article is user-generated content (i.e. external contribution)
expressing a personal opinion, not the views
of BBC Gloucestershire.