It may be a far cry from refereeing international rugby,
but the sound of the starter's whistle would have brought back
fond memories to Vinny Munro at Oamaru yesterday.
Munro (44) retired from first-class refereeing at the end of
last season and has found himself on occasion as part of the
start crew at harness meetings around Canterbury and North
''Peter Lamb is the starter and we used to work together in
the police. When he's short [of assistants], I fill in,''
''Obviously there were many away today, so they needed me.''
Munro has no particular background in horse racing - aside
from having a wager every so often - but is enjoying the
chance to get out and about before he takes up a
high-performance position at the New Zealand Rugby Union next
''I've got a new role as the national referee development
manager, so I start next Monday,'' Munro said.
''It's basically talent identification and trying to find
guys to bring through the club, the zones and through to the
''As well, I look after the sevens referees, so it's
Queenstown this weekend, and I'm a TMO (television match
official) in Super Rugby, where I'm leading a team of four.''
Munro decided to hang up the whistle and step down from
on-field refereeing after 12 years at first-class level or
higher and the product of Pleasant Point was lucky enough to
be able to whistle his last match at first-class level when
South Canterbury played Mid Canterbury in last year's
Heartland Championship. He also thanked his sense of timing
as he moved from the hands-on challenges of international and
Super Rugby refereeing to a post-refereeing career.
The reality is there are not many jobs [in refereeing], so
when they do, you've got to time it right, so I've been lucky
in that sense.
Munro looks back with fondness at his career, which took him
around the world and gave him one of the best seats in the
house for many of rugby's great rivalries, including being
assistant referee for all three Lions tests in South Africa
in 2009 and assistant referee duties at the 2011 Rugby World
Those were probably the two highlights that were way beyond
anything you ever dreamed of when you were taking it up.