Al Graham at RWC 2019 Qualifier!

As told by Al Graham, Saracens Alumni & past Club President:

“So how is this for a rugby experience……

I was invited, through the local referee society in Toronto, who had learned that I was going on vacation to Grenada, to be a referee assistant (4th/5th official) on the sidelines for the very first qualifying match for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The match, St Vincent vs Jamaica, took place in St Vincent on Sat 05 March and the referee was none other than Nigel Owens, the No 1 referee in the world!!! Nigel was the referee for the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham last October. Apparently, the referee who does the Rugby World Cup final is offered as a perk the first game of the subsequent World Cup.

I flew over to St Vincent from Grenada on the Friday night and returned on Sunday morning – it is only a 30 minute flight. I met up with Nigel Owens and the assistant referees at their hotel on Saturday morning for a briefing before the game. One of the assistant referees was from the Caymen Islands and the other from Trinidad. Then I got ride with them to Cricket/ Rugby Ground, got changed and set up with radios with them in the dressing room. With the World Rugby game organizer, I assisted them with keeping track on the yellow cards (sin-bin) and the injury replacements/substitutes.

Al at RWC qualifier with Nigel Owens.

The actual Rugby World Cup (the real one!!) was there as a centre piece of the pre-game formalities (see photos).
The rugby could be best described as frantic – some good breaks by both sides but wild passing causing numerous knock-ons (reminded me of high school rugby). Jamaica clearly dominated (48-0) and Nigel let the game flow. With the hot weather there was lots of substitutes to keep track of. Afterwards there was the usual post game function put on by locals with beer and food for both teams and the referees.”
Al and the RWC Trophy

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