The match officials in Aviva Premiership Rugby will wear black armbands for the next two weeks in memory of former referee Alan Biggs.
Biggsy, as he was known, was a former top-flight assistant referee, and also refereed in the Championship, before going on to work as a referee development manager for the RFU.
He died aged 54 on Sunday October 25, at Leckhampton Court Hospice in Cheltenham, after battling cancer for more than a year.
Former Aviva Premiership Rugby referee Chris White was a close friend of his, having become close at a primary school in Cheltenham.
They went onto play in the same youth rugby teams together in Cheltenham, the Saracens and the Colts, where Alan was captain for their unbeaten 1979/80 season.
White has paid tribute to one of his longest friends.
He said: “It has hit the refereeing world hard. We all knew that Biggsy was ill but it’s still a huge shock.
“He was able to go a couple of the World Cup games and went as guest of honour to the opening England v Fiji game.
“He was able go to the last pool game at Kingsholm – USA v Japan, as a guest of honour again.
“The messages that have come in from around the world say it all.
“They all talk of the same thing, somebody who was great fun, who understood what the game was really about in terms of enjoying and passing on that knowledge.
“Wherever he went, people had fun and they wanted to do it again the week after. He certainly educated a generation of referees all around the world on how to do it properly.”
Biggsy trained referees like Craig Maxwell-Keys and White believes this weekend’s gesture by match officials will provide a fitting tribute to him.
“The black armbands will mean a huge amount to his family and friends and to many rugby people all around the country and indeed those watching all around the world,” he added.
“For me, Biggsy was a great bloke, a true rugby man. He was an inspirational captain and he did a huge amount for refereeing and the game.
“He understood the true nature of the game and everything that goes with it.”
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