For the last 25 years, Glen Jackson has worked on the rugby field.

After a playing career spanning more than a decade saw him suit up for Bay of Plenty, the Chiefs and Saracens, Jackson made the decision to trade his mouthguard for a whistle in 2010.

Now, the 44-year-old had called time on his career on the pitch.

The five-time New Zealand Referee of the Year announced his retirement on Friday, a decision he made as a way to leave the game on his own terms.

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"It was always a 50/50 call about doing this year," he told the Herald.

"I was really lucky that New Zealand decided I was good enough to go around again, but after talking to the family and everyone, and after doing a bit of coaching with the Bay of Plenty under-19s, I just didn't want to have a season that I regretted and wished I hadn't gone one more.

"After 25 years of either playing or refereeing the body's not getting any younger. I really enjoyed this year, especially the Mitre10 Cup and finishing like that and I was lucky enough to do the final, so it was a good time to go and to not be pushed out, I suppose. It was a good time to go out on my own bat."

Jackson debuted with the whistle New Zealand at a Heartland Championship fixture in 2010 after returning home from the Northern Hemisphere. He climbed the ranks quickly, officiating his first Super Rugby match in 2011.

His first taste of international rugby refereeing was in 2012 when he took charge of the England v Fiji match at Twickenham in London. Throughout his career with the whistle, Jackson refereed in 32 tests, 88 Super Rugby matches and 60 Mitre 10 Cup matches, including eight Ranfurly Shield clashes. He was also part of the 2015 Rugby World Cup officiating team, but missed out on a spot for the 2019 tournament.

While he admitted it was a shock to miss the cut, he said it didn't play a part in his decision to hang up the whistle.

"Even before missing out on the World Cup I was looking to finish at the end of the year," Jackson said.

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"Obviously missing out on the World Cup was really disappointing; every player and referee tries to go to the best they can in terms of a sport, so to miss out on that was a shock and also disappointing, but I'll look back on my career – I was lucky enough to go to one World Cup, I've been involved in plenty of Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup games, so it certainly was disappointing but not a decision that made me give up refereeing."

Jackson will officially step away from refereeing in March, spending the next couple of months working with local officials. He said he was looking to get into coaching next, after spending some time working with the Bay of Plenty under-19s team recently.

"From a playing background to a coaching background, I think it would be great to now go into a coaching background. That would be the dream, but if not, who knows - maybe on Radio Sport."