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Premiership Rugby

Chris White to referee the Celtic Final

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

White is one of the world's most experienced referees with 18 Tests to his credit, making him the third most-capped English referee after Ed Morrison and Fred Howard. He and Roger Quittenton are now level.

One of his Tests was as a replacement – in the notorious incident when Dave McHugh was assaulted by a spectator in Durban and forced to retire early in the second half. White then moved off touch to referee the rest of the match.

This will be his fourth Final. He has refereed the Finals of the RFU Cup, when it was called the Tetley Cup, the European Shield and the County Championship. He has twice refereed semi-finals of the European Cup but was disqualified from refereeing a Final by the presence of English teams in the Final. The Final of the European Shield was in 2000 when Pau beat Castres.

The County Final – between Yorkshire and Durham – was also interesting as it was the 100th such Final.

This will be the fourth time White will have refereed at Millennium Stadium. He refereed Wales against Italy and Wales against France there and then the match between Australia and the Barbarians.

He does not live far from Wales. "If I climb a hill I can see Wales," he says. For White comes from Cheltenham where he played rugby and was a schoolmaster.

He played centre for Cheltenham, sometimes with his brother, an identical twin. His brother Andy was also a referee for a while. Chris and Andy would play on Saturday and referee junior teams on Sunday. According to Chris, Andy was a good referee, rapidly making progress to B1, before injury and work conspired to take him out of refereeing.

Chris tells the following story: "A couple of years ago when Ed Morrison had a dinner to celebrate his Hon Degree at Bristol University, I was in Australia for the Tri-Nations. Andy went in my place, accompanying my wife and caused havoc with a number of people who could not cope with my being in two places on either side of the world at the same time."

Chris's wife Lynne was also a rugby player. In fact Chris coached her while at Swansea University.

White, who turns 40 on 17 July, first refereed act the age of 17 but started seriously with the Gloucester Referees' Society in 1990. He refereed his first Test in 1998 – Georgia versus Russia in Tiblisi.

Back in gentle action at the Celtic Final is Nigel Whitehouse, the referee down to referee the ill-fated World Cup Qualifier between Russia and Spain in a World Cup qualifier, a match postponed because of inclement weather. The inclement weather produced ice, on which Whitehouse slipped, breaking his leg.

Just back from rehab in Reading, Whitehouse hopes to start running next week and be refereeing in mid-February. He will be the man looking after substitutions and/or replacements at the Celtic League Final.

The officials for the Final are:

Referee: Chris White (England)Touch judges: Ian Ramage, David Changleng (both Scotland)Reserve touch judge: Huw Watkins (Wales)

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