English rugby
Tony Spreadbury appointed RFU referee chief
ESPN Staff
May 30, 2014
Tony Spreadbury takes charge in a Leicester Tigers exhibition match, Louis Deacon's Tigers v Matt Hampson International Legends, Welford Road, April 21, 2013
Tony Spreadbury was a respected referee before his retirement in 2007 © Getty Images

Former World Cup referee Tony Spreadbury has been appointed the Rugby Football Union's head of professional game match officials.

Spreadbury, who was previously the RFU's referee development manager, will focus on improving standards in elite referees and leading "best performance" practices for all areas of match officiating.

"I am delighted to have been appointed and look forward to driving the development of our elite referees," said Spreadbury. "Their role is so important to the integrity of the game and I want to get them all closer, as a group, to work towards even greater accuracy and consistency. I would like them to be looked upon as the 13th team."

One of the game's first fully-professional referees, Spreadbury retired from officiating matches after the 2007 World Cup. He built a reputation as a referee who was willing both to let players express themselves and to make big decisions when required.

"Tony Spreadbury is hugely respected across the game, first on the pitch and latterly as a referee coach," said RFU RFU director of professional rugby Rob Andrew. "He has been instrumental in taking the department to the next level and the development of JP Doyle is just one example.

"With match officials under increasing scrutiny and pressure as rugby continues to grow, Tony will continue to be at the forefront of ensuring they fulfil their duties to the game in the best way possible."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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