Glen Jackson’s back as the man in black at Twickenham

Glen JacksonGlen Jackson could scarcely have believed he would be back at Twickenham so soon after hanging up his boots after the 2010 Premiership Final.
Yet the former Saracens fly-half returns this week to call the shots once again – not as a player but as a Test referee.
It has been a staggering rise for the Kiwi since he retired from playing little more than two years ago.
Rather than taking the well-trodden path into coaching and while he still had the legs to last 80 minutes, 36-year-old Jackson launched a new career in New Zealand as a referee.
He had already passed his RFU referee exams, taking charge of junior games in Surrey while playing with Saracens, but next Saturday will run the rule over his first international, between England and Fiji at Twickenham.
Jackson told The Rugby Paper: “Going back to Twickenham will be a massive highlight for me. It’s the best rugby stadium in the world by a long way and it’s pretty ironic that my last game as a player, and first Test as a referee, should both be there.
“It has been am amazingly quick rise in refereeing but I’ve had to do a lot of learning in that time. I’ve gradually been doing bigger games in the ITM Cup, then Super Rugby but this will be something else.”
Jackson, who will also run the line for England’s Test against South Africa later this month, is likely to find himself in the bizarre position of blowing the whistle on players he once stood alongside, in Saracens pair Mouritz Botha and Alex Goode. But that, he believes, gives him a unique advantage in taking charge of games.
He said: “It will be great to have a beer afterwards and I’m sure I’ll get some stick off them, but we will all have a job to do during the game.
“I’ve quickly realised that being a referee is a bloody hard job. My mates thought I was mad because it’s a pretty tough and thankless task, especially with pressure through media coverage of the games.
“So I understand now and apologise to all those referees I had a good crack at. So far not too many players have had a go at me, but I’m sure it’s just around the corner.
“Hopefully players respect the fact that I’ve played at a high level and I would like to think that also helps me as a referee.
“I understand what the players are trying to do, especially in the contact area which is such a contentious area.”
Despite the challenges, Jackson, who admits to still keeping an eye out for Saracens’ results, is desperate for more professional players to move into officiating the game.
He said: “It would be brilliant if more players went into refereeing. The main reason for me going back to New Zealand was not only to become a referee, but to encourage more players to get into it because numbers are low and we need players to put something back in.”
MATT LLOYD

Leave a Comment