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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Fleming blows whistle on career
Jim Fleming has overseen 40 major international matches
Fleming has overseen 40 major international matches
Scottish World Cup referee Jim Fleming has announced he will retire from the game at the end of the season.

The 49-year-old is Scotland's most capped referee.

He has controlled 40 major internationals since being forced to end his playing career 28 years ago through concussion.

Fleming was appointed to Scotland's international panel in 1983 but had to wait for 12 years before officiating at his first international - Ireland versus England.

He was the sort of referee you always wanted - he always produced good games of rugby
  Scotland coach Ian McGeechan
Scotland coach Ian McGeechan believes that the loss of Fleming will be a major blow to the sport.

"We are losing the best referee Scotland has ever produced - and I don't say that lightly," said McGeechan.

"From the coaching point of view, he was the sort of referee you always wanted. He produced good games of rugby.

"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."

The Boroughmuir official insisted that he was quitting the game at the right time.

"When I made the decision to retire from all refereeing at the end of this season I was fulfilling a promise I made to myself many years ago.

"I said I would bow out when I was still at the top of my profession and on my terms," said Fleming.

"It feels like the right time to go. I will be turning 50 in July and though I'm still enjoying it, it's getting a bit harder."

High profile matches

Fleming is one of only two referees to appear at all four World Cup tournaments to date, along with Derek Bevan.

He refereed at the semi-final stage in two of the competitions - Australia versus New Zealand in 1991 and New Zealand against France eight years later.

He was appointed to the International Rugby Board's elite refereeing panel in 1997/98, a season which also saw him control the Heineken European Cup final between Bath and Brive.

During Fleming's final two months with the whistle, he will control a series of high profile matches including:

  • the Border League Select versus Barbarians at Melrose on April 16;
  • the forthcoming European Shield semi-final between Newcastle and Harlequins;
  • the BT Cellnet Shield final between Haddington and Edinburgh Accies on 28 April;
  • the Scotland-Barbarians international at Murrayfield on 24 May;
  • the IRB World Series Sevens at Twickenham from 26-28 May.

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See also:

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