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'Leaving with a very heavy heart' - EPCR poach Tony Spreadbury from RFU

By PA
Referee Tony Spreadbury of England during match fourty of the Rugby World Cup 2007 between South Africa and USA(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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English rugby referees’ chief Tony Spreadbury is to join European Professional Club Rugby as head of match officials.

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His new post, based in Switzerland, will see him work with the tournament organisers of the Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup from December, EPCR said.

He is currently head of professional game match officials at the Rugby Football Union.

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Spreadbury refereed 44 Test matches, including officiating at two Rugby World Cups, and was one of rugby union’s first fully-professional referees.

In a statement released by the RFU, the organisation’s director of performance rugby Conor O’Shea said: “On behalf of everyone at the RFU, I would like to thank ‘Spreaders’ for his incredible contribution to the organisation and to refereeing over the last 20 years.

“He leaves us with the best group of match officials in world rugby, and obviously with our very best wishes for the future and as he continues his journey in rugby.”

And Spreadbury added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the RFU over the last 20 years – initially as a referee, then as a referee coach and finally in my current role as head of the professional game match officials team.

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“I really am leaving with a very heavy heart as I have met some brilliant people, not just colleagues, but also good friends. However, I am looking forward to the challenge ahead with EPCR.”

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