13 quick-fire questions with former referee Ian Smith

Former referee Ian Smith takes on 13 quick-fire questions on The Last Tackle.

Love Rugby League’s James Gordon and Drew Darbyshire are joined by former Super League referee Ian Smith and gain some fascinating insight on the life of a match official in episode two of The Last Tackle.

Favourite game you refereed?

“It was Wigan-Saints on a Good Friday when I should have sent off Terry Newton for breaking Sean Long’s jaw. I’ll never forget it!”

What is your career highlight?

“I never refereed a Grand Final or Challenge Cup final but I was video referee on a couple of them. I was video ref for the Grand Final where Ben Flower got sent off and that was an amazing night for all the wrong reasons.

“When I started refereeing, I never thought that I would ref just short of 300 matches in Super League so I’m going to say every one of them was a highlight.”

What is your favourite rugby memory?

“I think it was when Oldham scored a try against the touring Australians in ’86. We still lost but we came really close and the atmosphere at the old Watersheddings was just phenomenal. It was just a fantastic night and it was great for a young Oldham team to push a great Australian side all the way.”

What’s your favourite rule in the game?

“I really liked the 40-20 rule when they brought that in.”

What rule would you change?

“I would change where you are not allowed to trap the ball at the back of the scrum.”

Video referee, good or bad?


Who was the biggest nuisance to deal with?

“Am I allowed to say Danny Brough? I hope he’s not watching! The worst guy I ever refereed was Jim Dymock. He was an Aussie legend who played for London, every time I penalised London he would go apoplectic!”

What’s your favourite ground?

“I like Huddersfield. The KC Stadium is a phenomenal stadium but for all the wrong reasons for me! But I wouldn’t mind refereeing at the new Headingley, it looks awesome. I’ll go with Huddersfield though.”

Danny Sculthorpe or Phil Veivers?

“I think Danny Sculthorpe was a brilliant forward and Phil Veivers was a brilliant back.”

Who was the easiest captain to deal with?

“I’ll go with Paul Sculthorpe.”

What’s the nicest comment you’ve had?

“It’s not like you to get that right!”

What was your most embarrassing moment on a rugby pitch?

“I got pushed over by Darren Smith who played for St Helens, and it was live on Sky on a Friday night. I was in the in-goal area and I got in his way and as he came through, he pushed me and it took me ages to fall.

“I was watching Soccer AM the following morning and at the time, they said ‘watch, this is the most embarrassing moment’ and it showed me falling and they kept pausing it and rewinding it! I looked an absolute muppet.”

What’s your prized possession?

“I can’t even say my whistle because I lost it last year when doing a charity game. I have a couple of shirts from when I refereed in Super League. They are probably in a drawer somewhere in my house but I got a couple of Referee of the Year awards in the late ’90s and that’s what set my career off and I still cherish them.”

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1 Comment

  1. What do you think about scrum half’s putting the ball in the second row in every scrum, they may as well award a free tap Penalty. What does the rule book say. Hooking used to be a skill years ago ?

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