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Test Referee Adams has Died

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Albert Adams, South Africa's 44th Test referee, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Faerie Glen Pretoria. He was 72 years old.

By Paul Dobson, Moonsport

Born in Cape Town and schooled in Lydenburg and Parys, Adams played on the flank for Northern Free State (now Griffons) Schools, then for Pretoria University and Pretoria RFC. But it was in refereeing that he made his rugby name.

He joined the Northern Transvaal (now Blue Bulls) Referees' Society in 1975, starting at the bottom and working his way up to Carlton League. In 1987 he refereed his first provincial match in the Sport Pienaar competition and in 1989 he refereed Northern Transvaal B and Western Province B at Newlands. After that, he became a Currie Cup referee, notable for his organisation of scrums and line-outs with techniques like marking the spot with his boot, things that are now normal practice.

It was not his only involvement in innovation. In 1990, he and Wynand Mans together refereed a match between Maties and Old Maties, then a two-referee novelty. He was involved in developing Veldore (literally field ears), a form of referee communication.

In 1991, Adams became a Test referee. His first appointment was to two Tests between the USA and France in the USA. The second is unique in the history of rugby Tests because he called it off when the lightning at the ground in Colorado Springs was considered too dangerous for play to continue.

Adams also did much to develop referees in the Pretoria area. One of his protégés was Tappe Henning who became a Test referee and is now the manager of referees in Scotland.

Henning says of Adams: "I am deeply saddened by the news that Albert Adams passed away. He was a mentor, a coach, a dear friend and a trusted adviser to me in my development as a referee. I hope that Albert had peace in his heart. Ina and the family are in my prayers and thoughts during this difficult time."

Adams had his own businesses in Pretoria - first in residential hotels then in the used vehicle business. His wife Ina was a successful estate agent at AIDA properties in Pretoria-East. Albert qualified as an estate agent (PDEA), and they ran the business together.

Albert and Ina were married for 50 years last September.

Gentle Albert Louie Adams, born on 12 May 1945 died on 30 March 2018, survived by his wife Ina, their children Anell and Albert, and four grandsons. 

Photo: Albert Adams (left)

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