Biology Teacher Becomes Top Level Rugby Referee

For some teachers their ideal weekend is putting their feet up and forgetting all about the stresses of their working life. However, one Ellesmere teacher loves nothing better than swapping hyperactive teenagers for some confrontational rugby players.

Some people might know his face, but former Moseley fly-half Greg Macdonald, a biology teacher at the school, has become one of the first graduates from the RFU's National Refereeing Academy to officiate in the Aviva Premiership.

Macdonald, 33, who only took up refereeing four years ago when his senior playing career was drawing to a close, moved straight into officiating, where his potential was quickly recognised under the tutelage of former international official Chris White.

White, the country's most experienced senior match official after taking charge of 50 major internationals, including appearances at the 1999, 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, is now the RFU's National Referee Academy Manager with responsibility for developing the next generation of top rank officials.

Greg said "I think working as a teacher is the perfect place for a referee to enhance his people skills. You are dealing with a lot of different people and characters and it is the exact same on the park. You have to build relationships with kids and parents just in the same way you do with managers and players"

Macdonald's final game as a player for Moseley ended painfully, as he suffered a broken ankle in the last match. "It would be easy to be bitter about breaking my ankle in my last game for Moseley, but I had some good times with them. Being part of the side that won the National Two title and got the club back into National One is probably the highlight of my career", he says.

Greg, who coaches the school's Under 14 rugby team, has already taken charge of a number of high profile professional matches this season. Officiating LV Cup Games in rounds two and four with Ospreys v Cardiff and Gloucester v Wasps. He was also reserve official for the home International match between Barbarians v Fiji at Twickenham before being rewarded with his first Aviva Premiership fixture London Irish v Sale Sharks in May.

He said "I want to aspire to referee at the highest level that I can, Premiership or even international level if that's possible, and I'm still young enough to be able to do that, which is one of the reasons for stopping playing now."

"Teaching at Ellesmere College, with its great sporting heritage, is the perfect environment for me. I have the school's support to continue refereeing at the highest level and in return I can be a positive role model to students and young sports men and women at the school."

Macdonald has followed in the footsteps of his father Colin, a referee and National Leagues touch judge, and his decision to retire from playing was partly taken to give him the best chance of progressing as a referee.

12th June 2014  Back to News