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  Monday, 31 December, 2001, 00:14 GMT
Fleming's fabulous forty
Jim Fleming contemplates a decision out in the middle
Fleming first refereed an international in 1985
In 1973, when Jim Fleming retired from playing rugby, little did he know the future that lay ahead of him in the game.

The Scotsman has since appeared in four World Cups and officiated in 40 major internationals.

In the process he became one of the game's most respected referees and his efforts have now been recognised by an MBE.

However, it is not only facts, figures and honours that Fleming can fall back on in his retirement.


I am absolutely over the moon - this is a bolt from the blue
Jim Fleming on his MBE
The 50-year-old, who quit the game in June 2001, has the endorsement of the rugby fraternity ringing in his ears as well.

"He produced good games of rugby," Scottish coach Ian McGeechan said of his compatriot.

"People keep telling me that referees do not have influence on the game, but you only have to look at the games Jim produced to see that that's not the case."

"From the coaching point of view, he was the sort of referee you always wanted," McGeechan concluded.

Fleming, a chartered surveyor by profession, became one of Scotland's top 10 referees in 1982, nine years after embarking on his new role in rugby.

Within a year the Boroughmuir man had been appointed an international referee, and in 1985 he took charge of his first international - Ireland v England.

As well as the 40 internationals Fleming officiated in, he also ran the line on 75 occasions in major matches.

And he also holds the distinction of having come on as a replacement referee twice in internationals - the call from an injured referee having only ever gone out nine times.


I assume it was the SRU who put me forward and this award also shows recognition towards Scottish refereeing
Jim Fleming on his MBE
Fleming identifies the achievement of appearing in all four World Cups as one of the high points of his career.

He is one of only two referees to have appeared in all the World Cups to date.

In those appearances he refereed more games in the final stages of the World Cup - 12 matches - than any other official.

Having officiated the semi-final between Australia and New Zealand in 1991, he had the honour of controlling one of rugby's most memorable matches eight years later - France's semi-final win over New Zealand.

However, Fleming counts his final international as one of his favourite matches.

He was given the chance to to referee his own country at Murrayfield when Scotland entertained the Barbarians.

"There have been so many high points throughout my career, but the four World Cups really stand out.

"The last international, between Scotland and Barbarians, was also important because not everyone gets the chance to referee for their own country," Fleming said.

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