June 20,2014(ISN) – New Zealander Bob Francis QSO, MBE has been presented with the International Rugby Board Referee Award for Distinguished Service 2014.

During a career that started in 1961, Bob made an exceptional contribution at all levels of the Game, as both a referee and referee selector.

He took charge of almost 100 first class matches including the Ranfurly Shield in New Zealand and top internationals, such as the 1986 Rest of the World versus the British and Irish Lions at Cardiff Arms Park in Wales, which he considers one of his most notable appointments.

Bob also refereed what is often described as the “greatest provincial match ever played” in New Zealand in 1985, when he took charge of the Ranfurly Shield match between Canterbury and Auckland.

He later went on to be a referee assessor and then referee selector during several Rugby World Cup campaigns.

“The IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service recognises those who have contributed significantly to the area of officiating and there are few who have given more to Referee development than Bob Francis,” said IRB High Performance Match Officials Manager Joel Jutge.

“It is a great pleasure to thank him for his dedication and commitment to this key area of our Game.”

IRB High Performance Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said: “Bob is my mentor and someone who I have the utmost respect for. I’d call him my father figure of refereeing.”

“You always knew where you stood with Bob. He was chairman of the New Zealand Referee Association for 14 years and he was a real people person. He brought so much to the table and he has great honesty, which all referees respected.”

The award was presented to Bob Francis by IRB High Performance Match Officials Manager Joel Jutge on the eve of the IRB Junior World Championship final in Auckland, New Zealand.

Previous Winners

2013 – Michel Lamoulie
2012 – Paul Dobson
2011 – Keith Lawrence
2010 – Colin High
2009 – Francis Palmade
2008 – Andre Watson
2007 – Dick Byres
2006 – Peter Marshall
2005 – Paddy O’Brien
2004 – Jim Fleming
2003 – Derek Bevan
2002 – Colin Hawke
2001 – Ed Morrison