Tributes have poured in after legendary former referee Paul Dobson passed away on Monday.
In a life devoted to rugby, not just as a referee, but also as a schools coach and writer, Dobson made an exceptional contribution to the game in South Africa since taking the whistle of his first match in 1955.
He joined the Western Province Referees Society in 1968, while one of Dobson’s lasting legacies was his drive to unify the two different referees’ societies in South Africa, representing the then different unions. By the end of 1991, Dobson had successfully navigated the merger and the referees were the first rugby body to achieve this, a year ahead of the unions becoming joined.
Dobson became chairman of the Western Province Society in 1985 and managed all aspects of refereeing in the region until his retirement in 1999. He was a member of the Western Province Rugby Council for 15 years. He is now a life member and honorary life president of the Western Province Rugby Referees Society.
Back in 2012, Dobson was presented with the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service by IRB council member and South African Rugby CEO Jurie Roux at the Junior World Championship semi-finals in Cape Town.
Dobson also turned his hand to rugby writing and his books on the game include: The Official History of South African Rugby, Doc: An Autobiography of Danie Craven and biographies on Nick Mallett and Andre Watson.
He has also managed content for the SA Rugby Referees website, while becoming a regular and insightful columnist for Rugby365.com.
The tragic news came on the same day that the rugby fraternity bid farewell to iconic broadcaster Kaunda Ntunja.
Paul Dobson was the most selfless person I have ever met who served the game of rugby union with distinction. A great man, loved by many… his family, first and foremost and all within the rugby community. You will be missed, Oups; love you! 🙏❤️
— Howard Kahn (@Howiekahn) July 20, 2020
Terrible day for rugby in SA. Legendary author, journalist, historian and referee Paul Dobson’s match is over. He made it deep into injury time, but the big hooter in the sky has blown. #RIPPaulDobson #RIPKaundaNtunja
— Craig Ray (@craigray11) July 20, 2020
Very sad to hear this! Two great rugby men gone today! RIP Paul Dobson. May God carry your family during this tough time
— Sean Erasmus (@erasmus1410) July 20, 2020
Oh no, Another great man gone. RIP Paul Dobson, a kind and generous man of rugby. He takes with him a profound knowledge of the early days of the game in this country and an encyclopaedic understanding of the laws. And he was great company. My condolences to the family.
— Andy Capostagno (@andycapostagno) July 20, 2020
Heavy day to be a rugby man. Former top referee, raconteur and rugby master Paul Dobson has died. He shared his wisdom liberally and was much loved. Thoughts and prayers with his family. Go well, Mister D.
— Clinton van der Berg (@ClintonV) July 20, 2020
Tough as teak as a school master, but as fair and considered as you could ask for. A bit like his refereeing. Uncle Paul touched a lot of lives, including this one. Rest easy Paul Dobson
— Tank Lanning (@TankLanning) July 20, 2020
Not another good rugby man that leaves us??? RIP Paul Dobson, always liked the banter and intellectual debate about our love of rugby! Our family’s deepest regret to your family and especially John who is real chip off the old block🙏🙏 @THESTORMERS
— Schalk Burger (@skalabrak) July 20, 2020