‘Swearing was unacceptable’

Sacked Saru referees boss André Watson admits he should not have used foul language when speaking to his whistle-blowers. 

Watson’s services were terminated following an independent investigation into grievances that had been lodged against the long-serving former Test referee at the beginning of the year.

While a host of role-players within the referees’ department lodged grievances allegedly related to Watson’s 'dictatorial management style', reports over the weekend suggested former international referee Mark Lawrence was at the forefront of this campaign.

When contacted by SARugbymag.co.za for comment, Watson referred to his statement that was released after Saru confirmed the findings of the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration).

‘Listening to evidence during the [disciplinary] hearing I came to realise that my management style in certain instances might reasonably be interpreted as dictatorial, strict and abrasive,’ Watson conceded.

‘My attitude remains that in the high-performance environment of international refereeing you have to be thick-skinned and able to take criticism on the proverbial chin. In my mission to ensure that our referees remain to be regarded as the best in the world I drove a hard bargain with the referees in my department.

‘I demand high-performance and if not achieved I addressed this in no uncertain terms. This was apparently not acceptable for certain individuals within the fraternity.’

Although Watson said he would 'never apologise for the expectations and high standards set', he admitted his messages may not have been conveyed in an acceptable manner.

‘During the disciplinary hearing it was highlighted that the use of foul language and swearing became a habit in the rugby environment. I amongst others, made myself guilty of this. This made out the crux of the allegations levied against me. I acknowledge it to be unacceptable when representing Saru in a professional capacity.’

Watson said he had been advised by his attorney not to comment any further on the findings, but confirmed that they were taking the applicable steps to take the finding and sanction imposed on review.

Post by

Craig Lewis