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.