Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Chris Pollock hangs up his whistle, but passion undimmed

Chris Pollock. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Chris Pollock. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

His Super Rugby whistle is hushed, but Chris Pollock will continue to deliver his rulings in Hawke's Bay.

The 43-year-old retired from test rugby after the 2015 World Cup, stopping his CV at 22 internationals, but continued to referee Super Rugby.

That's also come to an end after 201 first class games now the sports director at Hastings Boys High is working with the school's 1st XV, teaching maths, refereeing club rugby and assisting the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union as a professional development manager.

The people he's met and places he's visited have filled volumes of great memories for Pollock.

"There have been so many great and varied times. One was in 2008 when Kelvin Deaker and I were in South Africa and went to a private game park about four hours drive out of Durban. We were sitting in a pool at the lodge and having a drink when a white rhino strolled past."

Last year, Pollock's highlights were more formal: he was invited to Buckingham Palace and attended a dinner at Westminster Abbey as part of the World Cup festivities.
During the tournament he refereed USA's test against Scotland and ran touch in Argentina's match against Ireland in Cardiff.

"It was the weekend France played New Zealand in Cardiff, so we were there for that as well. The atmosphere throughout that weekend was extraordinary and the spectators were singing and jumping up and down and going mental. Then getting to watch the semi and final from the stand in Twickenham was some experience."

Pollock only copped grief a few times in his career and acknowledges he contributed to that.

His promotion to referee for the first Lions test against the Wallabies in 2013 was both special and painful. Pollock was happy with his work and received similar feedback from assistant Craig Joubert.

"But an hour later I started getting some text messages about how things had not gone so well. I have reflected on it and think [Lions coach] Warren Gatland used me to get to Joubert for the second test. He wanted the game played a certain way and was worried if Craig refereed the way I had, then it would affect them."

In 2007 Pollock sinbinned a player after being overruled by a senior touch judge.
Pollock stopped the match as the Bulls were about to score, yellow-carded their player and the Force won.

"Two out of 201 first class games is okay, I would have taken that if it was offered at the start of my career."

Pollock has no regrets about his sporting path, nor the transition from the park to the crowd, and hopes something will come of his passion for analysis.

- NZ Herald

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