Bryce Lawrence: the first legally blind man to officiate a Super Rugby match

Here at Big Daddy Rugby our girlfriends and wives readers often accuse us of being too cynical and mean-spirited.  So we thought we’d cover a feel good story for a change. One of those triumphs of the human spirit/overcoming the odds stories that will get you through an otherwise bleak work week.  We’re putting the spotlight on a true human inspiration – Bryce Lawrence: the first legally blind man to officiate a Super Rugby match.

Bryce Lawrence shortly before the Sharks Crusaders match

Set back as he is by his inability to actually see anything in front of him, Bryce has had to overcome more obstacles than most in order to referee at the highest level. Most people who are incapable of spotting a forward pass, late hit or foot on the touch line might decide that officiating a professional sport probably isn’t a good career choice.  But plucky Bryce has kept at it and despite his inability to penalize anything resembling a New Zealander, Bryce has been awarded the highest honours a referee can be given – officiating at both Super Rugby and Test Rugby.

On Saturday our plucky referee had the whistle for a crucial knock out game between the Sharks and Crusaders.  He put in a brave performance and his blindness was only evident for a few occasions.   Sure, he penalized the Beast for a “dangerous engagement” BEFORE the Beast actually engaged with his opposite number and he had a general disregard for New Zealand hands all over the pill at ruck time, but critical Sharks fans must remember the tremendous obstacles Bryce has had to overcome in order to officiate.

For someone who is incapable of sight, his performance with the whistle showed a lot of moxie.  For that Bryce, you’re an inspiration to us all.

Besides Sharks fans – it’s not like having a sighted official would have made a difference.

Smokey the Bowler


  1. And he’s going to the World Cup! Not for the piss up though…but to actually ref games…shoew.

  2. Brilliant Big Daddy!!! See that the right people see this or are they all blind?

  3. Sandy – I’m afraid the regular press just don’t call it like it is.

    Silas… not just the World Cup – the Super 15 Final too!

  4. Well, today’s game just proves you -and us all corrrect. Except of course for the referree selectors. Maybe they’r blind as well? or being bought off?. Not that the Bokke were able to finish their moves, so maybe OZ deserved a win as they scored the only try – and I’m not an OZ fan, ok? but sheesh – from the first hands in by OZ right on their own tryline, you could actually see where the game was going…

  5. Yip. He just refused to ref the breakdown it was insane.

    Still the Boks only have themselves to blame for not converting 75% territory into a win.

  6. There have been so many issues with this blind ref. How on earth can he still get selected for the world cup.

  7. And there’s talk of him getting the final if NZ aren’t in it. Apparently the panel of refs rate him highly. No idea why. Credit to the Wallabies for playing him better than us. They knew he wasn’t going to ping hands in the ruck.

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