Volunteers acknowledged in New Year Honours list

  • Former international referee Ed Morrison included in New Year Honours list
  • Willenhall RUFC and Staffordshire Rugby Union volunteer also recognised 
  • To find out how to volunteer for your club, click here

Former international referee Ed Morrison has been awarded an OBE and Elfyn Pugh has received a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list.

Both awards were in recognition for their services to rugby and rugby related causes.  

Morrison was an international referee for 11 years and became England's first full-time professional rugby union referee. He took charge of the 1995 World Cup final when South Africa defeated New Zealand after extra time in Johannesburg and remains the only Englishman to have refereed a Rugby World Cup Final.

“I’m incredibly proud and pleased to receive this award," sad Morrison. "It’s great to have recognition for officiating which sometimes doesn’t always get the plaudits.

"I’m very, very happy, particularly for my family who were thrilled to find out."

He took up refereeing in 1982 following injury and progressed rapidly, being appointed to the International Referee Panel in 1989. He went on to officiate in 42 international rugby matches during a period in the game when international matches were significantly less plentiful than they are today.

After retiring from officiating in 2001, Morrison took on a referee development role within the RFU. He became the Elite Referee Unit Development Manager in 2003 and Head of Elite Referee Development in July 2008, a position he held until his retirement in July 2013.

Although so much of his rugby life has been at the highest level of the game, Morrison has remained fully committed to grassroots rugby, both in his willingness to pass on his knowledge to players, referees and administrators and in his commitment to helping to develop young referees. 

Morrison is particularly loyal to the City of Bristol and Bristol Harlequins Club, where he was fixture secretary for over 30 years. He has been an active member of Bristol Referee’s Society for 31 years. Whenever he was not appointed to referee an international match or a match on behalf of the RFU, he would endeavour to referee at a local club – even a few days after a Rugby World Cup final.

Since his retirement Morrison has become an integral part of the referee’s society again, in particular, as part of the society's sub-committee responsible for the recruitment of new referees.  Only recently, he has been part of a team who have visited and presented to over 30 clubs within the Bristol area in a two month period, in attempt to boost dwindling refereeing numbers.

5O Years’ Service

Following over 50 years of service to Willenhall RUFC, the club which he helped establish, Pugh has been awarded the honour for his services to rugby in the community. 

“It’s a fantastic honour especially given I’m from Staffordshire Rugby Union," said Pugh.

"This is a great county to be working with. I thought when I received a lifetime achievement award from Eddie Jones in November that was the ultimate, but now this. I was speechless when I heard. It’s such a great honour."

In 1966, as a player for works side Rubery Owen, Pugh was instrumental in establishing Willenhall RUFC which aimed at providing rugby for players in the Willenhall area and for non-Rubery Owen employees.

As a Founder Member he was instrumental in finding a site and arranging the purchase of land for the present club site in Essington. The club is still going strong today (at Level 8) and until this season Pugh has held virtually every club committee position. He finally stood down at the end of season 2015-16.

Pugh has also been the longest serving member of the Staffordshire Rugby Union Management Committee but his greatest passion has always been coaching. Starting in the 1970s, and for 15 consecutive years, he organised the very successful Staffordshire Rugby Union Coaching Conference weekends.

He arranged visiting coaches from all parts of the UK plus accommodation and facilities for 70-80 coaches and players.

A beneficiary of Pugh’s coaching organisation was Graham Smith who began his coaching journey with Staffordshire and progressed to Assistant Coach to Gary Street and the England Women’s side which won the Rugby World Cup in 2014.

During his long service, many coaches have started out on their journey inspired by the coaching activities which Pugh has organised.

His interest in coaching is not just confined to organisation. He qualified as a RFU Preliminary Award holder in 1970 and has worked closely with schools, coaching rugby as an extra-curricular activity.