Mark “Lone Wolf” Lawrence: A Farewell Tribute

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

Mark Lawrence left out in the cold

I know I’m a little late out of the blocks with this post but regardless Big Daddy Rugby would like to express their complete disgust at the recent announcement that Mark Lawrence will not be refereeing at the World Cup later this year.

The “Leading Man” of rugby referees is being left at home. “Crouch, touch, pause, engage” will never sound the same again.

What makes the IRB’s decision even more galling is that they have decided to up the ante when it comes to pure comedy by giving Steve “make mine a double” Walsh the nod. Yep, Steve’s going to be there, but Mark’s not.

Not only is Lawrence a good ref, but his rapport with the players on the field is second to none. You never see him getting flustered or speaking to the players like they’re children (ala Johnny Kaplan). He’s cool, calm and collected, something the IRB reckons isn’t necessary for this World Cup.

This is a massive loss for the tournament and rugby lovers in general, so as a tribute to Mark, here are 5 facts about the man that you probably didn’t know:

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 shoulderYou’ll be sorely missed Mark, but you’ll always be in our hearts, World Cup 2011 ref or not.

Mark Lawrence. Admit it, you probably would...