West Auckland lawyer and long-time Auckland Rugby referee Don Thomas added a new entry to his CV last month. He can now boast that he has refereed an international rugby match on the famous Cardiff Arms Park, the spiritual home of Welsh rugby.
Don was in Cardiff as a referee at the 21st Golden Oldies Rugby Festival. Open to players 35 years and over, the Cardiff festival saw at least 10 players over 80 years “young” taking the field for their respective teams. The oldest player was an 87-year-young player from Alice Springs, Australia.
The festival opened with the traditional parade of nations through Cardiff from the castle to the Principality (previously the Millennium) Stadium. Under the closed roof of the stadium the 1,300 players in 86 teams from 14 countries and their partners took part in the opening ceremony. The same venue a week later saw the closing dinner and prizegiving at a sit down dinner for the participants.
Don was also one of the official scrutineers as part of the successful record-breaking attempt to set the world’s largest scrum, with 1,297 participants.
The competition proper ran over three days at the University Fields in the course of which Don controlled six games.
It was the additional appointment to one of the invitation matches played on the park that was a highlight of the week for Don. He was appointed to referee a feature match between an Argentinian team and a New Zealand team on the hallowed turf.
Golden Oldies Rugby is part of a growing movement for people who want to continue to participate in their favourite sport beyond their serious competitive years. The Masters Games in Auckland next year is a further example of the strength of this movement. Then 25,000 athletes from 100 counties in 28 sports and 45 disciplines will be descending on Auckland. The teams and competitors are settled for this. However the organisers would welcome anyone interested in assisting in some way as a volunteer (see www.worldmastersgames2017.co.nz).
In 2018 it will be Christchurch’s turn. Over April 2018 the city will host 10 sports in what is predicted to be the city’s largest sporting event. Enter your team now. If you are not part of a team you can still be involved by registering as an individual. There are always teams that are happy to accommodate individuals (see christchurchgoldenoldies.com).