SA Rugby Test referee Craig Joubert on Wednesday announced his retirement from 15-a-side refereeing to take up his “dream job”, developing elite young match officials.
Joubert, 39, has accepted a new position with World Rugby as a “Referee Talent Development Coach”, to help identify and develop the next crop of top men’s and women’s referees in both sevens and 15s. This full-time position, which was globally advertised, will involve coaching and mentoring referees on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit, where Joubert will continue to officiate.
Joubert refereed his 68th and 69th Test matches during the November international window and will take up his new position immediately in the New Year.
“This was not a decision I took lightly given the obvious lure of possibly refereeing the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand next year as well as the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019,” said Joubert.
“However, the opportunity to make a difference in other peoples’ careers and lives is something which I’m excited about. It really is a dream job. Over the past few years I have taken Rasta Rasivhenge under my wing and have mentored and coached him and it has been enormously rewarding to see him grow as a person and as a referee.
“This position gives me the opportunity to play a more formal role in sharing my experiences and developing referees and to have a positive influence on the lives and careers of other young referees.“I am also thrilled that I will continue to referee on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as we build our team of referees towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. I love the Sevens environment and being a part of this very special team.”
Joubert refereed the 2011 Rugby World Cup final as well as more than a century of Vodacom Super Rugby matches and 80 Currie Cup matches, including five finals between the two competitions. He has also refereed 25 World Sevens series tournaments including 11 finals and the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens final. He was also part of the refereeing team at the Rio Olympics Rugby Sevens competition.
Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, paid tribute to Joubert and his 12-year career with the organisation.
“Craig has been both an outstanding referee and a role model for aspiring young match officials since the day he burst onto the scene while still in his 20s,” said Mr Alexander.
“His calm, unflappable demeanour both on and off the field have been one of his hallmarks in conjunction with the clear and consistent way in which he has applied the Laws and worked with players to allow them to express themselves.
“South Africa has been blessed with outstanding referees in the professional era and Craig is at the very top of tree. He is the perfect role model for rising young referees and, as very sad as we are to see him go out of the 15-man game, we know he will be a considerable asset to officiating the world over following this appointment.
“We are sure he will be highly successful in his new role and wish him every success in this new stage of his career.”
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “I would like to thank Craig for his dedication and service throughout a wonderful refereeing career. He has been a world-class referee for many years now and has officiated at the very highest levels of the game in both 15s and sevens. It has been a pleasure to work with him during his active refereeing career and I have no doubt he will continue to contribute to the game in his new position. I expect his vast experience and his extensive knowledge of the game to be a huge asset to us as we continue to develop the world’s top match officials.”