Rugby: Lawrence to bring up double ton

Bryce Lawrence will become just the fourth Kiwi to control 200 first-class matches when he whistles the Wellington Lions versus Taranaki ITM Cup match. Photo / Getty Images.
Bryce Lawrence will become just the fourth Kiwi to control 200 first-class matches when he whistles the Wellington Lions versus Taranaki ITM Cup match. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand's most experienced professional referee Bryce Lawrence will become just the fourth Kiwi to control 200 first-class matches when he whistles the Wellington Lions versus Taranaki ITM Cup match in Wellington on Sunday.

Lawrence, 41, will mark the milestone more than 15 years after his debut match, Bay of Plenty versus Taranaki, in July 1997.

This year's ITM Cup will be Lawrence's last as a professional referee as he hangs up his whistle to step into a new role as the New Zealand Rugby Union high performance referee reviewer.

The 25-test referee is one of three New Zealand whistle-blowers retiring after the domestic season.

The other two are seasoned pros Vinny Munro (86 first class matches) and Keith Brown (108 first class matches).

Also marking a milestone this weekend is referee Jonathan White who controls his 100th first class match in tomorrow's Ranfurly Shield match between Waikato and Hawke's Bay in Hamilton.

General manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen said Lawrence's 200th first class match was a remarkable achievement for a New Zealand referee.

"Bryce's career features an impressive 25 test matches, two Rugby World Cup tournaments, 60 Super Rugby matches including last year's Investec Super Rugby Final, six Ranfurly Shield challenges, and four national provincial championship Finals. Sunday will be a special match for him and we wish him well," Sorenson said.

"Although he's hanging up his boots and whistle, we are very pleased that Bryce will join us to work with our professional referees. His currency and vast experience will be invaluable as we look to develop our refereeing talent."

Lawrence will wear a white referee jersey, especially embroidered with the game and milestone details. He joins former New Zealand referees Paddy O'Brien (221 matches), Paul Honiss (220) and Steve Walsh (210) in the double-centurion ranks.

In other refereeing news, former Chief-turned referee, Glen Jackson, has been appointed to his first international test duty.

Jackson, 36, joined the New Zealand professional referees team in 2010 and is one of 19 international referees appointed by the IRB to referee two tests during the November northern hemisphere test season.

He will whistle England against Fiji at Twickenham on November 10 and Georgia versus Japan in Georgia on November 17.

Test referee Chris Pollock is currently unavailable for duty as he rehabilitates from remedial surgery.

He is aiming to return to full refereeing duties early next year.

- APNZ

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