Ref at Rio: teacher’s feat

Dinoo Kelleghan

Anthony Moyes (in red) at his 200th match

On August 9, as children at Caddies Creek went to class, their teacher was standing in a stadium half a world away with the world’s media focused on him.

Anthony Moyes, the most capped Rugby Sevens referee in the world, was officiating in his first Olympics, Rugby Sevens having been included in the Games program for the first time in almost 100 years.

“Onfield rugby refereeing’s pretty much the opposite end of the scale from my classroom,” he said with understatement.

His onfield and classroom tactics have each influenced the other: “Dealing with people and dealing with pressure definitely helps my teaching. And then the organisational skills I need for school probably helped in my refereeing,” Anthony said.

Stage 3 RSS, science and PDHPE teacher Anthony is grateful to his past and current principals at Caddies Creek Public, west of Sydney, for supporting his refereeing career, which has taken him to games in London, Dubai, Cape Town, Las Vegas, Tokyo, and Moscow and elsewhere in World Rugby Sevens tournaments since 2010.

He has refereed in 231 games, which means he is phenomenally fit. “It’s a really fast game,” he said. He is one of a select dozen or so in the world who can handle the speed, endurance and the mental demands of refereeing the game at international level.

“Composure and dealing with pressure also helps,” Anthony says, “and accuracy of decision-making.”

Anthony played down the new challenge of the Olympics as he prepared to leave for Rio. “There’s the potential for a little more pressure than the international games,” he admitted. “The game doesn’t change but the stakes are higher because of the medals.”

Family helps him stay balanced as he switches between dealing with the clash of mighty bodies and egos in international rugby and the young students he teaches at the primary school in Glenbrook, NSW. “The best way to make the switch when I’m coming home from a trip away is to know I’m returning to my family first and foremost,” he said. “I’m leaving the refereeing world and returning to the real world.”

Anthony’s wife, Alison, also teaches at Caddies Creek. Both his parents and his brother and sister are also teachers.