11 Nov 2015
After a great career, Chris Pollock has decided to retire from refereeing international rugby.
The pinnacle of his career for the 43-year-old from Hawke's Bay was the recent Rugby World Cup at which he refereed three pool matches and was then an assistant referee in five matches. He missed one pool match, Australia vs Fiji, early in the World Cup, because he had to return to New Zealand for a family funeral. But he returned to the World Cup and his commitments.
It was his second World Cup as he had also been involved in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. There were 10 referees appointed to that World Cup and two assistant referees. The assistant referees were Chris Pollock and Jérôme Garcès, both in the dozen referees for 2015.
His shift from playing to refereeing was fors the familiar reason - injury. He joined the Hawke's Bay Referees' Association in 1997.
In his international career, Pollock refereed 22 Tests after his debut Test (Nieu vs Tahiti) in 2005 and his first IRB appointment (Hong Kong vs Japan) in 2006, the year in which he refereed the final of the IRB Under-21 World Championship in Durban. In his Test career he refereed the first B&I Lions match against Australia in 2013, Championship (ex-Tri Nations) matches and Six Nations matches. In 2006 he first refereed a Super Rugby match and ended with 70 Super Rugby matches altogether.
This international career took him to the great stadiums of the world, including Lansdowne Road, Newlands, Millennium Stadium, Twickenham, Murrayfield, ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Eden Park and the other famous stadiums of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, as well as interesting places like Estadio Malvinas Argentina in Mendoza, Stadio Olímpico in Rome, FNB Stadium in Soweto and the grounds in Suva and Apia. It was an interesting career, including being the first referee to use the ref-cam - in 2013 when the Reds played the Waratahs in Brisbane.
In fact his career would have been even better but for a long period of injury with a form of arthritis which attacked his hips. It was first diagnosed in 2012.
Pollock was born in the south west corner of New Zealand's North Island in the second biggest town in Taranaki, Hawera, the same town which saw the births of John Mitchell, John Plumtree and Conrad Smith. Pollock went to New Plymouth Boys' High and played for Taranaki Under-18.
He then studied physical education at Otago University before heading north to Hawke's Bay to teach.
Pollock told the World Cup referees in their last meeting at the World Cup that he was retiring from international rugby and is now back teaching again.
The New Zealand RFU made the announcement of his retirement on 11 November 2015.
New Zealand Rugby General manager rugby Neil Sorensen acknowledged Pollock's contribution to refereeing, saying: “Chris has given a huge amount to this game both at the provincial and international level. This year, he was our most experienced referee on the field with 192 first class matches to his name including the 22 internationals Tests, two Rugby World Cup tournaments, 70 Super Rugby matches, and nine Ranfurly Shield challenges.
“We are very grateful to Chris for the huge contribution he has made to the game.
“We hope he will continue to be involved in rugby and share his knowledge and experience with up and coming referees both at the provincial and national level."