If there was ever a happy referee on the field then it is Shane McDermott.

You will see his smile from start to finish of any game he is in charge of, keeping a lid on tempers fraying and making players feel at ease.

It is a trademark of the man known affectionately as Gappy, who on Sunday will referee his final first-class game at QBE Stadium in Albany between North Harbour and Taranaki.

It will end 20 years of service at first-class level, first as a player then as a referee for the Tauranga-based official. He shifted north from Invercargill in 2009 and has been in charge of more than 80 first-class matches.

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"It has been a privilege to represent both Southland and the Bay of Plenty as a member of the national refereeing panel for the last 12 years. Being able to stay in the game at the highest level after I retired from playing, has created so many opportunities to be a part of many great games," McDermott said.

"Highlights for me would be my first Ranfurly Shield game [Counties v Mid Canterbury in 2014] and refereeing the Lochore Cup Final in 2008 between Poverty Bay and Horowhenua Kapiti."

Bay of Plenty and All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris wished McDermott well for the future.
"In my earlier years of playing for Te Puke he was not the guy we wanted to get on the wrong side of but towards the end we knew he was a good guy.

"I always give him stick about when I played for Chiefs Development against Fiji A. I thought Gappy had reffed the game really well but their captain got up and said 'referee, I think you need to do a few more sprints and work on your yo-yo'.

"Gappy after that worked so hard and he used to say he was the best at the yo-yo among the referees. He is a top guy and I wish him all the best."

Bay of Plenty coaching director Clayton McMillan agrees he will be missed out on the field.
"We forgive him for being a Southlander, first and foremost. He has always been thoroughly professional and manages to find that balance between being professional in his job and having that human touch," McMillan said.

"In my opinion some of the referees who have come out of playing representative rugby have a natural feel for the game. I have always enjoyed the way Gappy refereed both at club level and representative level. It will be sad to see him hang up the whistle actually."

McDermott is grateful to the support he had from other referees but mostly from his family.

"The major thanks needs to go to my wife Lisette who has been a rugby widow on many, many weekends over my career. Along with my boys Caide and Lucas, she has been the rock through lots of ups and downs and always there to support."

McDermott will continue to referee in the Bay of Plenty Rugby Premier competition in 2018 as he is still a few games shy of controlling 100 Premier matches. He will continue his involvement in Mitre 10 Cup, Super Rugby and test rugby as a television match official.