Roger Quittenton 1940 – 2013

Introduction by Doug Murgatroyd

Having only just got a handle on how to access the Old Cicestrians Website and learnt only recently how to “upload” information onto it, I thought that an appropriate area of interest would be Teacher Memories. To this end, I have begun the process of collating articles we have previously published in past newsletters and, hopefully, will add others that you the readers might contribute. To this end, if you email me at with your memories I would easily be able to paste them directly into this section of our website. Also, do let me have your ideas on other areas of interest.

Roger Quittenton was a referee before his time – the first ‘professional’ in an amateur era whose style and attention to detail made him a genuine refereeing legend in his lifetime. Bare statistics do not do his career justice, but for the record, he joined the London Society in 1972 (from Sussex with whom he always maintained the strongest of links) and refereed until the mid-1990s before seamlessly moving into the ranks of RFU and IRB assessing. He refereed 20 Test matches including games at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 and countless cup finals; Barbarians games and other key matches. He was in demand all over the world. His first full international was Romania v Italy in 1977 and his last was Canada v USA in 1989.

As with many officials, his career was marked by a high-profile event, namely the awarding of the winning penalty to New Zealand as they beat Wales 12-10 in Cardiff in 1978. All Blacks lock Andy Haden dived from the line in an attempt to con the official and while Roger actually penalised Wales’ Geoff Wheel for a push on Frank Oliver. The moment has become infamous. It is true that they never really forgave him in Wales but to remember Roger for one incident in one match would be to misunderstand the man; his legacy as a referee and his place in the development of refereeing–most definitely in London, certainly in the United Kingdom and probably in the wider rugby community too. That place and that legacy are rooted in an attitude of professionalism in the true sense of the word that he engendered in his refereeing and in those fortunate enough to benefit from his mentoring and teaching and I was certainly one of those.

Many will remember the Central meetings from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties when Roger held centre stage and implored his audience to impose his “London standards” on refereeing. This may seem arrogant when put on the page like this, but it was not arrogance, it was just Roger introducing and reiterating points about dress; consistency; coherence; managing foul play; positioning, and all from a personal standpoint that marked the gold standard of officiating at the time. Stories about him and his extraordinary attention to detail are legend in themselves; a few of my favourites would include the boots bought and then put on the stockinged feet and soaked and dried ‘in situ’ to ensure the perfect fit; shorts deliberately bought one size too short and then ‘gusseted’ (by Ann of course) to ensure the perfect look; the shirt always pulled down and tucked in and then pulled down again so as to prevent creasing. He rang me one evening after the appointments to the Middlesex sevens had been announced; he and I were to run touch for Chris Rees in the final so we would need two RFU (plum) tracksuits. Two? I only possessed one, but of course, we would need to wear one during the day and keep one pressed and ready for the final. He always arrived at internationals two days before (not one) so when the last plane from Heathrow to Dublin on the Thursday was cancelled because of fog, he calmly insisted on being driven to Holyhead to catch the ferry just in case. He was a dedicated schoolteacher and would run in his lunch breaks, but with a weighted belt, so as to run more easily on Saturday and of course it did not matter where he was refereeing, 3 miles or 300 miles from Sussex, he would leave at the same time and sit in the car park wherever he was going, just to be properly prepared. This may all sound a bit eccentric and in some ways it was, but he did these not for show or effect but because he believed he owed it to the game he loved to be the best he could be – and this was his way of being the best he could be. As an assessor he would write in the boxes, up the side of the page; down the other side and on the envelope, all in a small spindly hand that was very difficult to read, but if you made the effort to turn the page upside down or get a microscope you were rewarded with an insight and honest constructive criticism that was seldom matched by his colleagues.

He will be much missed and much remembered. Our thoughts and prayers go to Ann and the family.

From: GlynRS2

My father-in-law, Roger died a couple of months ago. He was very cruelly taken by a rare and progressive lung disease that took him from cycling to the gym every morning for a hard workout, to struggling to keep his breath for a single sentence in just 6 months.
He loved his car and we have detailed it together a number of times in the past. One of the last things he said to me was a request to give his car a proper clean before putting it up for sale. So today that is what I did: a full exterior and interior detail.

I think Roger would have approved.

June 2, 2013

Roger Quittenton from the Old Azurians website:

International Rugby Referee

Roger, or “Q” as he became known, was born in Surrey on 14 February 1940. After leaving Worthing High School he became a Mathematics teacher at Chichester and Worthing High Schools for Boys, and at Worthing Sixth Form College. However, it was as a rugby referee that he was best known.

When he died in 2013 tributes to him poured in from RFU officials, referees and players alike, so much so that your editor feels that he can do no better than to select extracts from those tributes in an attempt to paint a fair and comprehensive picture of the man as others in the top echelons of the game saw him.

He was a referee before his time –the first ‘professional’ in an amateur era whose style and attention to detail made him a genuine refereeing legend in his own lifetime. He was different, some thought him eccentric and pernickety (a trait ascribed to many schoolmaster referees), but by and large he was respected and admired.

Before each match he would arrive early, sometimes a day or two before, in order to familiarise himself with the ground and the conditions anticipated on match day, including where the sun might be. He took great pains to ensure that his kit was always immaculate, the shortness of his shorts being legendary. His lunch-time breaks as a teacher were spent running up and down measured distances to keep himself fit for keeping up with the play.

His dedication to the job of a referee paid dividends; he achieved world-wide recognition and officiated at international matches over a period of 12 years from 1977 to 1989, including the inaugural World Cup in New Zealand in 1987, and 20 Test Matches.

It is in the nature of the job that referees sometimes make decisions that are controversial and in this Q was no exception. In 1978 Wales were leading the All Blacks 12-10 in Cardiff with only two minutes left before Wales would achieve a historic victory. New Zealand were also desperate to win to secure a grand slam, so the All Black Andy Haden took it upon himself to dive out of a line-out spectacularly. A penalty was awarded from which New Zealand scored to clinch victory. The whole crowd seemed to register Haden’s dive for what it was, but Q always maintained that he was on the other side of the line-out, hadn’t even seen the dive, and had awarded the penalty for a push by the Welsh prop Geoff Wheel on another New Zealand player.

On his retirement, Q was immediately appointed as an International Referee Selector. Over a number of years, Q assisted many senior referees in maximizing their ability to referee at the top end of the game by passing on his shrewd guidance, sympathy, and understanding of the demands made on top-flight referees. Q also served as a referee assessor, a role he fulfilled with his customary professionalism, his reports being filled with constructive comments.

One other thing that singles out Q from other rugby referees is that a framed print, a jigsaw puzzle, and a mug showing him in action have all been produced and are still available.

In his other life as a teacher, Q is affectionately remembered by his pupils. Andrew Bustin -said “I read about the passing of this great man with much sadness, he introduced me to Rugby whilst I was a pupil at Chichester High School for Boys. On the other side of my life with “Dick” as the kids affectionately (and oh so obviously named him) I still have no idea what simultaneous equations do! Even though I had to solve several of them when I was put in detention by him for suggesting he might be wrong!”

Tim Walker an ex-pupil at Worthing High School for Boys said “I have read some of the tributes to Roger online, most referring to his achievements in the world of rugby. I wanted to add that I remember him as an exceptional teacher too. In 1974-76 in the 6th form, he taught me Applied Mathematics. I did pass my A level, though I was never very good at it in truth. But Roger brought massive energy and infectious enthusiasm to his lessons, made it his business to know his students, and coached and cajoled me in this difficult subject with good humour and respect. His approach, accessibility and presence stood out among the teachers I encountered at the time, this was a man who made a real impression on me.”

Facebook extract 11 March 2020:

I remember Roger Quittenton reffing us as schoolboys.
I came across his name recently looking at old memorabilia
I thought the last T in his name was a D and pronounced it that way for years.

When he came to ref it was more than just a game against the opposition.
As Captain, you would meet him before and after the game.
We knew he was on TV at that point and so huge honour that he reffed our games.

I played at Kings Canterbury back in the ’80s and will never forget how proud we were that he was reffing us.
I always remember one thing about his style – he looked at everything, you could see him watching, assessing with his back 45 degrees to his knee bent legs.
Eyes like eagles
I didn’t know him at all but he reffed us more than once and it was exciting to know he was coming.
Seemed like a really nice man then and on reflection still.
Sorry to hear he has gone.

Jake Judd


Chris Bennett He was a kind and generous teacher too and many were not in that era. I still remember how he used to be out on the playing fields doing his fitness training. Up and down the pitch in all weathers. A good man and role model. I owe much of the enjoyment of playing rugby into my adult life to his encouragement

Mike Hancock, He was also my maths teacher at the school. Did you also know that his brother, Martin, wrote ‘Maggie May’ and ‘You Wear It Well’ for Rod Stewart, and was invited to join The Faces, but declined? He did play in the blues rock band Steamhammer, their most famous track being ‘Junior’s Wailin’.

Keith Upton Mike, interesting. Never too old to learn…. those are two of my favourite Rod S songs.

Mike Hancock, I didn’t know at the time, but my hobby is the history of British pop, so came across the facts a few years ago. Although, when playing in several bands, Junior’s Wailin’ was one of my favourite tracks to play.

Richard Francis There’s an interesting article describing Martin (who died in 2015) and “The Curse of Maggie May” at…/the-curse-of-maggie-may-1181598

Keith Upton Richard Francis Fascinating story Richard.??

Adrian Goord Richard Francis thanks for sharing- very interesting.

Peter Henry Roger lived in Rustington towards the end of his life. He died in 2013 following a long lung illness. He used to cycle in Rustington with his oxygen cylinder in his bike basket. He taught me PE

Chris Bennett Peter Henry I always thought it was unfair that a man who kept himself so fit should suffer like that

Peter Henry Chris Bennett absolutely agree with you.

Keith Upton When Rod Sealy moved on Roger joined CHSB and became the 1st XV coach/manager. We were unsure what to expect at first but his great attitude, undoubted skills, focus and dedication soon put our minds at rest. I was one of the fortunate ones to know him…See more

Mike Hancock, He was a fantastic maths teacher.

Geoff Smith, He was an inspiration on the rugby field and teaching maths. I never saw another teacher filling the blackboard so quickly, over and over, with theory and examples.

Mike Hancock, I also have memories of him turning up at school on his Lambretta in his duffel coat.

Peter Ayling, He was not only an excellent player and coach but he was a very thoughtful and caring teacher and an all-round nice person.

Chris Bennett Peter Ayling very true in contrast to many of the older teachers of that time. Most were academically very sound but lacked many of the softer skills required of teachers today. I also realised later that a number were unquestionably war-damaged having served in the forces.

Peter Ayling Chris Bennett so true.