Mark Lawrence, South African referee and ladies man, announced his retirement from the game last month in order to focus on coaching new emerging referees. In our Big Daddy Rugby tribute to Mark Lawrence, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane in our Moments with Mark photo gallery:
Mark’s first season of refereeing was tough going as he found that his questionable peroxide highlights and lack of facial hair held him back in Super Rugby. International rugby players were far more aesthetically demanding than the college crowd he was used to.
A complete rework of his 5 o’clock shadow and a careful styling job rescued his career in 1999 after Naas Botha had criticized his looks as “made for SABC radio”. He took the criticism to heart and emerged with a new flair that won over many housewives and even a few Player 23s. An edition of Huisgenoot featuring a Mark Lawrence spread notched record sales and he was known as “the man who could do no wrong”.
In 2000, Mark re-invented his look and his star was on the rise as he became known for his trademark ‘Blue Steel’ pose during test matches. He became a popular guest judge on Project Runway and had to turn down SA Pop Idols due to “creative differences”.
Last season, just as he had perfected his beard and the world was at his feet, a scandal after a Tri-Nations test match involving a hotel jacuzzi, three Victoria Secret models and a litre of Ultra Mel custard almost meant early retirement for our dapper whistle blower. He emerged from his dark night of the soul stronger, quieter and with a steely resolve.
So here’s to you Mark. Enjoy retirement.
And as scooped by Silas’ earlier in the year, here are five facts you probably didn’t know about Mark Lawrence:
- Mark Lawrence has never eaten at the Spur
- Mark Lawrence’s favourite album is “If you can’t stand the heat” by Status Quo
- Mark Lawrence auditioned for the role of Dr Gregory House for the hit TV show “House”
- Mark Lawrence had his heart broken by a girl named “Florine” in Brussels back in ’93
- Mark Lawrence has the phrase “Courage doesn’t always roar” tattooed on his left shoulder