Rasta Rasivhenge has called time on his refereeing in Sevens. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge is set to make his last HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series appearance this weekend when he takes the whistle at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament, after he decided to turn his full attention to refereeing in fifteens from the start of the 2019 season.

The former mathematics teacher turned professional referee has made impressive progress up the local junior ranks into the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Vodacom Super Rugby and Test match grades over the last few years.

Rasivhenge joined the Golden Lions Referees' Society in 2007 and quickly worked his way to the SA Rugby National Panel. 

It did not take him long to break into the Elite Panel and since then he has established himself as a leading referee on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

World Rugby Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said Rasivhenge has been the most successful Sevens Referee in the history of the game, having refereed the Olympic Final in Rio in 2016, and the RWC Sevens Finals of 2013 (Moscow) and 2018 (San Francisco), plus countless play-off matches during his successful six-year stint on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

“Rasta was given an opportunity to referee in the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby competition and, as a result of impressing the Sanzaar management in his debut year, it is important that he now concentrate on the longer form of the game without the distraction of Sevens, so he can be given the opportunity to reach his full potential,” said O’Brien.

Rasivhenge has over 250 Sevens games under his belt and O’Brien believes the environment and team culture he has been surrounded with over the past six years will hold him in excellent stead going forward.

“Rasta has played a huge part in ensuring that Sevens refereeing is at the same level as the playing of the game, and he will be missed by our management and his peers,” said O’Brien.

“However, he has untapped potential in the fifteens game and it is quite clear he has a bright future ahead of him. 

"We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

Banks Yantolo, the Senior Manager for Referees at SA Rugby, thanked Rasivhenge for his outstanding duty on the Sevens circuit and wished him well with his future refereeing plans.

“Rasta has been a model of consistency and he has performed with distinction in a stellar six-year period on the Sevens circuit, where he is a respected and popular official,” said Yantolo.

“It is fitting that he will take the whistle for the last time in a Sevens tournament here in South Africa, in front of a fantastic crowd at this weekend’s tournament in Cape Town, and we want to wish him well as he embarks on a fulltime fifteens refereeing career.” 

African News Agency (ANA)