Graeme Reisima, right, keeping a close eye on the action. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
By Gary Caffell
Graeme Reisima is closing in fast on refereeing 200 premier division matches in Wairarapa-Bush club rugby.
It will be number 199 when he controls the Pioneer-East Coast fixture at the Jeans street grounds in Masterton on Saturday and the man himself, who turned 54 on Tuesday, says he has no plans to retire when he chalks up his second “ton”.
“No, I’ll keep on going while I am still enjoying it.
“Frankly I haven’t even thought about retirement, it’ll happen sometime but I’m not sure when.”
Reisima joined the Wairarapa-Bush refereeing ranks in 1994 after deciding that he would be able to spend more time with his young family than he would if he continued to play as a flanker for Marist’s premier club side.
“I loved my rugby and wanted to stay involved without going through the routine of two trainings a week plus playing on Saturdays and refereeing seemed the obvious choice.”
It didn’t take Reisima long to get noticed in his new role, his first premier division appointment coming near the end of that 1994 season when he controlled a fixture between Pioneer and Martinborough.
“From what I can remember there wasn’t a lot riding on it, I think it was more a matter of trying me out to see if I could cope.”
Cope Reisima did and in the following years, he rose to being the region’s top-ranked referee, officiating in “four or five” premier division club finals and “seven or eight” first class games on the provincial scene.
“I’ve had a really good run — obviously, it would have been nice to make a national squad but I didn’t quite crack that.
“Sometimes you wonder why but really all you can do is your best and hope it’s good enough.”
In such a lengthy refereeing career, Reisima has, of course, seen many rule changes and he has very definite views on that subject.
“To me the IRB keeps shooting itself in the foot by constantly changing the rules, we’ve got to the stage where something new comes in practically every season and that makes it tough to adapt, not only for referees but for coaches, commentators and spectators as well.
“If they stuck to the same set of rules season after season the game would be a lot better off from so many angles.
“Right now, we have referees themselves often debating how the rules should be interpreted — that’s how crazy it’s got.”
Reisima sees the current crop of Wairarapa-Bush referees being as strong, if not stronger, than at any other time in the last couple of decades.
This was due not only to their own dedication but to the support they were given by older hands like Harry Quinn and Peter Debney who were only too happy to pass on the knowledge gained from their own refereeing experiences.
“You can’t stress enough how important that sort of support is, and we’re very lucky in that respect.”