Stuart Dickinson has just finished one of the greatest refereeing careers in the history of the game, and at 43 he moves to pastures new.
Very new in fact - a new job in a new city.
Dickinson is a Sydneysider but now he is moving up the coast to warm Brisbane. Dickinson was a policeman, then in business, then for 15 years a full-time referee and now he has a new job, back in business.
So the family of five will uproot and head north. Dad will be at home on more days and nights but will be working to somebody else's time on those days. And they will be seeing much, much less of Dad on television and in newspapers. It's new all right.
Dickinson started refereeing at school at the age of 12 and has now retired from refereeing at the age of 43.
There are still years left in that whistle but retirement has been coming closer. After all, he has had 15 years of refereeing rugby at the highest level. He refereed at three World Cups (1999, 2003, 2007). In all he refereed 47 Tests, which puts him fourth behind Jonathan Kaplan, Chris White and Alain Rolland, in the number of Tests refereed by an individual in the history of the game and he has refereed more Super Rugby matches (98) than anybody else.
It has been a great career which he ended with an especially good performance in this year's Super 15. He won Australia's inaugural Referee of the Year Award at the annual John Eales Medal evening in 2009 and again in 2010, as well as the Super Rugby Australian Referee of the Year award on a record seven occasions.
A referee full of achievements. But what now?
We spoke to Dickinson and asked: What are you going to do next? "I will be joining a company called Fresh Produce Group as Queensland State Manager and will move Fiona and the kids up in early January. I commence with them on 7 November and will be based in Sydney first as I spend time looking and learning about the operational aspects of the company prior to moving to Queensland."
Dickinson is obviously young and fit enough to go on refereeing.
Why have you decided to call it a day - was it your own decision or forced on you?
Dickinson: "The decision to retire was made by Fiona and me as we felt it was the right time to conclude this aspect of our lives. I have been on the Australian Referee Panel since 1994, full-time since the inception of Super Rugby in 1996 and on the IRB panel since 1997, and that has involved a great deal of sacrifice from the family and we felt now was the right time to go in order to ensure we had some great family time as the kids are starting to get older.
"I have no regrets about that decision as I was offered a great opportunity with Fresh Produce Group to move back into the commercial world and it was always very important for me to control my destiny and timing of retirement which I have done.
"The decision has certainly shocked a few people who did not expect it but I guess I rather go a year earlier than hang on too long."
And what do you feel about retiring?
Dickinson: "I will, of course, miss the great buzz and challenge that comes from being involved at the highest level with the greatest players on the greatest grounds as well as the total opposite of just running around with the schoolboy matches but I have thoroughly enjoyed what has been a wonderful journey where I have been fortunate to travel the world and meet so many wonderful friends and see so many magnificent sights and immerse myself in such varied cultures. The life experiences gained cannot be matched in any other occupation and I will always be indebted to the game of Rugby for providing that opportunity.
"I am retiring from refereeing and not the game. I will have a nice break and then come back to help out in some way or another as I firmly believe that if you have drunk from the well you always have to put something back in."
What are the highlights in such a great career?
Dickinson: "All of it. What a wonderful journey and experience!
"My first 'A' Test, Wales vs South Africa at Wembley in 1998, was just superb. Refereeing at the old Wembley ground, having Jim Fleming and Ed Morrison on touch and meeting the great Bill McLaren was just a wonderful introduction to Test Rugby.
"Refereeing at three Rugby World Cups. In 1999 the Ireland vs Argentina match with 'that hug' at the end from Felipe Contepomi. In 2003 refereeing Test matches at home as we are always in a foreign land and in 2007 refereeing Wales vs Fiji which was just a great game and, of course, being TMO in the final having to make that decision with no freeze frames or slow motion replays.
"Lions vs SA series in 2009. "Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002 and refereeing the final in 2002.
"The most important aspect was the great people I have met and the friendships made."
Inevitably, as for all sportsmen, there are disappointments in such a long career, especially for one as controversial and targetable as a referee. Any disappointments?
Dickinson: "The greatest disappointment was the personal and public attack from the IRB Referee Manager after New Zealand vs Italy match in 2009. It was unprecedented and unwarranted and a private apology after a public attack left a lot to be desired.
"Then there are the mistakes made in matches as a result of poor preparation. It happens to all of us but when you reviewed matches and just knew you hadn't performed well and let the players and yourself down was the worst feeling on earth."
There are referees, like Alain Rolland and Alan Lewis, who do not want to referee full-time. What are the pros and cons?
Dickinson: "At the start of professionalism in rugby it was an amazing place to be as we were at the vanguard of transition and creating history as players and referees in taking the game to new places. The ability to have the time to travel as a professional was important as unlike our northern hemisphere mates we have a fair distance to cover and being full time helped this aspect. In this time I was able to complete a Business and Masters Degree over the years and I also had the time to see my kids take their actual first steps and hear the first words and that is irreplaceable.
"The worst aspect was the amount of time away from home and not having any control over your weekends. The travel is greater now in the last few years and I also believe that we need to ensure that referees keep other employment as it allows them to be involved in the community and not lose touch with their skill set. You have to have a balance in life and that is often missed by some."
How you and your family have coped with your absences?
Dickinson: "It was always difficult being away from family and the one who has suffered most is my wife Fiona. I owe her so much and I am so proud of her as she has had to make so many sacrifices so that I could follow my dream irrespective of whether that provided our income. Her resilience and strength of character are amazing and words cannot describe how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful lady and how she has managed to cope over such a long period of time with being basically a single mum. Our wives and partners are the unsung heroes and that goes for the players as well as no one could this job without such strong support."
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