Chance beginnings to Olympic Final: Meet the new Guinness PRO14 ref

Joe Leavey
02 October 2019

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From an accidental start to the Olympic Final via Super Rugby, Rasta Rasivhenge has had a colourful rise to the top of officialdom.

The 33-year-old South African referee is joining the Guinness PRO14 for the first five games of the season, progressing his much-storied journey another step.

Having been the man in the middle for a decade, Rasivhenge has marshalled at the Olympics, in two Sevens World Cups, the Top14 and Super Rugby, an odyssey which all began by chance…

“It started off with me just watching my mate play at university,” Rasivhenge said. “They didn’t have enough players, so I filled in as the 15th – I didn’t make any tackles but never mind!

“There was an old man refereeing the game. My mate confronted him about a few tackles, and I went to console this old guy, and he just happened to ask me to join refereeing – they had a recruitment campaign going on at the time.

“I thought it was a joke at first but after that I decided to go and take up the whistle, see what it was like, and it worked out quite well!

“So I was lucky – right place, right time! I was fit enough and knew a lot about the game because I watched a lot of rugby and I studied a lot.”

A runner at school, Rasivhenge flourished amid the physical demands of elite-level sport and quickly progressed up the South African ladder – Vodacom Cup, Varsity Cup and subsequently the Currie Cup.

He joined the World Rugby Sevens circuit in 2011-12, refereed at the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow and in the 2015-16 season in the Top14 – a fair amount of flights.

He continued: “I do miss my friends and family sometimes, you travel a lot but that comes with the job and it is a great job, sometimes I really miss my mum but it’s ok!

“My mum is my biggest supporter, and my mates, I always get their opinions because it comes from the heart, it’s great to have people that support you.”

2016 would turn out to be a memorable year for Rasivhenge, his selection as referee for the Rio Olympics Sevens Final – that incredible occasion where Fiji won their first ever Olympic medal in any sport in quite some style with a 43-7 win over Great Britain – an endorsement of his abilities.

“You were probably cheering for Great Britain weren’t you!” added Rasivhenge, who refereed the fairly handy Josua Tuisova, Leone Nakarawa and Viliame Mata on the day.

“It was something quite different, the Olympics was quite tough, a lot of pressure.

“I wish the game was closer, it was a bit of a blowout! But Fiji did really well. In my refereeing career I’ve had a lot of proud moments and that was one but probably the best for me was my first Super Rugby game in 2016.”

Rasivhenge has now retired from sevens to concentrate on 15s and joins the Guinness PRO14 courtesy of a four-month break in the southern hemisphere after the Currie Cup.

“I was called up for this exchange after the Currie Cup and thought it was a great opportunity to come and referee some northern hemisphere rugby, to try and learn a couple of things.

“Then I can incorporate that into Super Rugby when I go back, it’s a great experience to have.

“I want to get better with every opportunity, achieve all my objectives and inspire other people to get involved in the sport.”


Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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