• Remarkable Referees - John F Miner OAM

    In this article, the first in a series which depict referees who have made great contributions to rugby, we acknowledge John F Miner of Newcastle, NSW.

    In 1950 John Miner began a career in rugby which continues to this day. For 61 years he has been completely involved with the service of rugby & assisting rugby players.

    In 1950 he began refereeing in Newcastle. By 1954 he had reached First Grade standard and began controlling senior representative fixtures.

    From 1954 to 1967, he controlled in excess of 175 First grade games. During that period, 1954-67, refereeing major fixtures in ACT, Illawarra, Central North, Hunter Valley Zones & Sydney, finally becoming an International Referee.

    Mr Miner controlled the following Senior International Fixtures:-


    • 1957 - New Zealand All Blacks vs Newcastle
    • 1961 - Fiji vs Newcastle
    • 1962 - New Zealand All Blacks vs Newcastle
    • 1967 - Ireland vs NSW Country


    In addition to the above mentioned games, he controlled numerous games within the Wills Cup Trophy, Final of Country Carnivals & The Caldwell Cup.

    Whilst an active referee and later, he served as an administrator of rugby; he served with Newcastle Referees' Association as:-


    • 1955-59 - Secretary
    • 1960-62 - Vice President
    • 1963-67 - President
    • 1969-Present - Patron


    In 1968 Newcastle Referees' Association honoured John Miner by making him a life member. He has been a member of the Newcastle Referees' Association Examination Board for the 27 years.

    After having been a member of the NSW RU Appointments Board from 1968, he was, in 1980, appointed chairman of the NSW RU Appointments Board. He was the first country member to be elected to such a position. He was chairman from 1980 - 1991.

    He served on the NSW Examinations Board for 12 years.

    He has served several terms as Vice President of NSW Rugby Union Referees' Association.

    In 1977 he was elected President of the NSW Rugby Union Referees' Association. He thus became the first president, in the 86 years history of the association, to come from outside of the Sydney Metropolitan area. That year Newcastle hosted the Australian Society of Referees convention, in which John played a major role in organising.

    In 1980 the NSW Rugby Union Referees' Association honoured him by making him a life member of the association, he was again the first country member to be recognised with that honour.

    In 1981 John Miner was nominated to the Australian Referees Selection Committee. In 1982 he was made Chairman of this committee, a position he retained until 1991. John also became a member of the Australian Rugby Union Council as the referees' representative, a role he maintained until the Society was disbanded in 2002.

    In 1987 the Australian Rugby Union appointed Mr Miner as their representative on the World Cup Referee Assessors Board, he was again appointed for the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

    John Miner played a very active role in the Australian Society of Referees, being delegate representing NSW for many years & delivering lectures at the seminars and conventions held by the society.

    Mr Miner was, simultaneously, a member of the NSW Country Appointments Board, Chairman of the NSW Appointments board & Chairman of the Australian Appointments Board.

    He thereafter held a unique position in rugby by covering such a broad expanse of experience in appointments and he is (to our knowledge) the first person ever to cover such a wide field of appointments boards.

    In 1992 the Australian Society of Referees made John a Life Member.

    Mr Miner now has the unique position of being a Life Member of:-


    • Newcastle Rugby Union Referees' Association;
    • NSW Country Rugby Union Referees' Association;
    • NSW Rugby Referees' Association;
    • The Australian Rugby Union Referees' Association.


    Mr Miner for three years on the committee of the Newcastle Rugby Club, two as Vice President, and one as President.

    John was also Chairman of the Marketing Committee of the Hunter Academy of Sport, and Chairman of the Committee organising the Ethics in Sport Seminar.

    Mr Miner has been recognised by the University of Newcastle for his service to the community & sport by the award of a Master of Laws (Honoris Causae).

    The Australian Government recognised John by awarding him the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to Sport.

    His contribution to his profession of Optometry is also noteworthy (Though how he had time to work as well is beyond me - Ed).
    He is a Life Member of the Optometric Vision Research Foundation and in 1978 he travelled to England to deliver a paper at the Optical Practitioner's Standing Conference. He is a Director of Evatt House, a residency on the campus of the University of Newcastle, and a Director of the Hunter Academy of Sport.

    There are two trophies named after John Miner, they are for the Most Improved Referee for The Newcastle Rugby Union Referees' Association & the same award for the NSW Rugby Referees' Association.

    I think we can safely say that John has given a lot to the game of Rugby Union in Australia, and for that we thank him.

    If you know of a person involved in refereeing who's achievements should be told, let us know.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Ricardowensleydale's Avatar
      Ricardowensleydale -
      Without denigrating the genuine achievements of men such as John Miner surely the ref who made the greatest contribution was the mythical one who failed to say
      " What the hell are you doing Webb-Ellis? Thats handball....yellow card, Do that again and you're off"
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ricardowensleydale View Post
      Without denigrating the genuine achievements of men such as John Miner surely the ref who made the greatest contribution was the mythical one who failed to say
      " What the hell are you doing Webb-Ellis? Thats handball....yellow card, Do that again and you're off"
      For the record.

      In those days there were no referees. Arguments were decided by the players and were often resolved after the game by a small group of senior boys.

      And catching was of course allowed. The Fair Catch (Mark) was an integral part of the game for it was from a kick after a Fair Catch that most goals were scored.

      The final law in the 1871 laws drawn up by the newly formed RFU:-
      59. The Captains of the respective sides shall be the sole arbiters of all disputes.


      However it was in fact quite common by then to have two umpires - an idea presumably borrowed from cricket.
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