ERRS History & Heritage

Edinburgh Rugby Referees’ Society has a rich history in its contribution to the sport in and around Edinburgh, nationally and internationally and over the years many of our members have played a significant part in rugby at various levels.

 

Edinburgh Rugby Referees’ Society (ERRS) started in the early 1960s and our Presidents over the years are shown on the ‘honours board’ (seen on the left). ERRS first met at Heriots Former Pupils RFC at Goldenacre before moving to Bangholm (home of Trinity Accies), then Broughton FP RFC  in the 80s before shifting across the city to our present home at Boroughmuir RFC in the mid-90s.

 

The Allocations Secretary of ERRS now has demi-god status but up until the late 60s referees were not appointed by ERRS to matches but, instead, invited by clubs to officiate. Not surprisingly, if a club lost then it might be a while before that referee was invited back! In the early 1970s, refereeing appointments were carried out by a sub-committee of the Edinburgh and District Rugby Union. So, initially, ERRS was a means of referees meeting up for social occasions until such time as the Society took charge of appointments. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the ERRS took over total responsibility for the appointment of referees.

 

We pride ourselves on our contribution to match official coaching and the quality of our coaches, but it wasn’t always thus! In the 60s and 70s, each new referee was allocated a number to indicate their ranking and assessors (not coaches) would watch each referee twice a season and then rankings would be published. Each referee avidly studied the ‘league table’ to see where they stood. It wasn’t unknown for a referee to move Society to obtain a higher ranking in that Society versus ERRS! When the SRU introduced a league system in 1973, there were 4 National Leagues to which the SRU’s Referees committee appointed referees. Referees progressed through one division at a time so it could take a while to reach the top division. Until the 1990s when the SRU bylaws changed, to be able to officiate in Scotland, referees had to be a member of a rugby club. 

 

We have produced many international and national level referees over the years. Jim Fleming and Brian Anderson were the first two touch judges (‘Assistant Referees’ in today’s terms) for the first-ever Rugby World Cup Final in Auckland in 1987 between France and New Zealand and Jim went on to become our most ‘capped’ referee and remains so to this day with four World Cups to his name. Jim also refereed the first-ever Scottish Cup Final between Hawick and Watsonians in 1995 as well as the final of the 2nd Women’s World Cup in 1994 between the USA and England played at Raeburn Place.

 

We have also had many other international referees and our ‘capped internationals’ are shown in this section. Stuart Thomson and Dougie Kerr were well-known international referee assessors for many years and acted as such in the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups respectively.

 

We’ve also enjoyed the company of several of the current crop of international referees and match officials who have come along as speakers including Mike Adamson, Hollie Davidson and Sam Grove-White. 

ERRS would not exist or continue without many stalwarts; some of whom have retired from refereeing duties and some who remain very active in ERRS.

 

Over the years we’ve seen sterling contributions from great people like Dr Brian Slawson, Bill Hogg, Eddie Sheret, and Bobby Clark amongst others…….to be added to.

 

Apart from a couple of exceptions, the Annual Dinner of the Society has, since the early 1970s, been held on the last Saturday of January at the Edinburgh University Union in Bristo Square.

 

In the near future, we're hoping to add some photos of events and memorabilia below. If you would like to add to this section of our rich heritage and memories then please let us know!

Year
Chairman/President
1972/73 - 1975/76
Dr Brian Slawson
1976/77 - 1979/80
Peter Allam
1980/81 - 1981/82
Iain Henderson
1982/83 - 1984/85
Walter Robb
1985/86
Douglas Hunter
1986/87
Ray Megson
1987/88 - 1988/89
Bobby Clark
1989/90 - 1990/91
Mike Barrie
1991/92 - 1992/93
Craig Frame
1993/94 - 1994/95
Bobby Clark
1995/96 - 1996/97
Joe Smith
1997/98 - 1998/99
Douglas Kerr
1999/00 - 2000/01
Johnny Bacigalupo
2001/02 - 2002/03
Jim Fleming
2003/04 - 2004/05
Jim Yuille
2005/06 - 2006/07
Peter Carruthers
2007/08 - 2008/09
Andy Ireland
2009/10
Graham Allen
2010/11 - 2011/12
Malcolm Currie
2012/13 - 2013/14
Gordon Grant
2014/15 - 2015/16
Robin Veitch
2016/17 - 2017/18
Iain Young
2018/19 - 2019/20
Graham Allen
2020/21 - 2021/22
Johnathan Cockayne
2022/23
John Evans