Paul Dobson. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/Ashley Vlotman
Paul Dobson. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/Ashley Vlotman

Paul Dobson, who touched so many lives as rugby historian‚ author‚ referee‚ coach and mentor, died on Monday after a short illness.    

Dobson‚ his handshake as warm as his smile‚ wore many hats in the game, but did so with geniality and generosity of spirit.

It was easy to see his deep passion for the game. He was quick to share his vast knowledge of rugby, whether it was about coaching‚ refereeing or statistics.

It was as a mentor and father figure that former SA Schools flyhalf Craig Marais will hold him dear.

“I transferred to Bishops [Diocesan College] in 1979 and he was the first person I met. He was the housemaster‚” Marais said.

“It was a very confusing time for a young coloured boy, but he took me under his wing. He became a mentor. He was more than that. He was like a father to me and his wife Margaret like a mother.

“I played under-14B and he was under-15 coach and he soon put me in the A side. That put me on the path to representing the SA Schools team in 1983. Of course, we couldn’t call it that then.”

Even after Marais left school, Dobson remained a guiding influence.

“When my father died in 1992 I was a bit lost; he was my rock and pillar. I will never forget that.”

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander paid tribute to Dobson’s vast contribution to the game.

“We mourn the passing of a great man of SA rugby; referee‚ author‚ historian‚ mentor‚ friend to all.

“Paul was a legend in the global refereeing community, was recognised for his services to the game by World Rugby in 2012 and was the fount of all knowledge on SA Rugby history in all communities‚” Alexander said.

“Rugby has lost a giant. Paul’s contribution to the game was extraordinary‚ and he never lost his passion for it‚ or his joy in its small and great moments‚ its past legends and its modern heroes. Rugby is much poorer today.”

Dobson leaves his wife Margaret‚ son John (the Stormers coach), daughters Anne and Clare and five grandchildren.

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