Mike Titcomb: International rugby referee

Mike Titcomb set new standards in rugby refereeing in the northern hemisphere in the 1960s and became widely respected as a friend of the players. He became England's youngest international official, aged 32, when he controlled the first of his eight full Tests in the 1966 Five Nations Championship, remained on the RFU international panel for a record 10 years and was given the rare honour of refereeing an England match in the RFU centenary season.

The esteem in which he was held by the players was never better demonstrated than when he organised a game to celebrate 50 years of rugby at his old school, St Brendan's College, in Bristol in 1971. Gareth Edwards, Barry John, and Mike Gibson were just some of the heroes of the triumphant 1971 Lions tour of New Zealand who turned out for the Mike Titcomb International XV.

"Mike did more to establish a rapport between players and referees than anyone I can remember. He was totally trustworthy and the kind of person you could seek out after a game and enjoy a pint with," the 1971 Lions captain John Dawes explained.

Dawes was involved in one of the most controversial incidents of Titcomb's international career during the Ireland vs Wales international in Dublin in 1968. Captaining Wales for the first time, Dawes was delighted when Titcomb awarded a drop goal to his side from the boot of Gareth Edwards.

The kick tied the scores at 6-6, yet the Irish players, along with 50,000 home fans, believed Edwards' kick had gone at least a foot wide. Play was held up for almost five minutes as irate Irish fans threw orange peel, apple cores and bottles on to the field, while a few others found their way on to the pitch and had to be frog-marched away.

"We all thought that the drop kick he had awarded earlier in the game to Ireland's Mike Gibson had been touched in flight, and shouldn't have counted. Then he gave the goal to Gareth and there was a bit of a hiatus," Dawes said. "Mike was conscious he had made a mistake and I think he got a little bit frightened. But Ireland scored a try in the end and won the match without any complaint from the Welsh team."

For his part, Titcomb was pretty pragmatic about the incident: "It was just one of those things that could have happened to anyone. I thought the ball had gone over." He needed a police escort off the field after nine minutes of injury time.

Six of Titcomb's international appearances were in Welsh matches, including the dramatic 19-18 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield in 1971, when a last-gasp try from Gerald Davies and conversion from John Taylor won the day for the men in red.

If that victory remains a part of Welsh rugby folklore, the day that Llanelli beat New Zealand 9-3 in 1972, and the ecstatic home fans drank the town dry in celebration, is another occasion to which Titcomb was central.

He was also the man in the middle when Oxford University famously beat the touring South Africans in their opening game in 1969 and refereed every major touring team that visited the UK during his career. Included in that was the capped match between England and the RFU President's XV at Twickenham in 1971 to celebrate the 100th birthday of the RFU.

Educated at St Brendan's College, he trained as a teacher at St Mary's College, Twickenham, and Bristol University. He spent the whole of his career in education in Bristol, teaching first at St Bernadette's School, then at Bristol University and finally at the Polytechnic, now the University of the West of England.

Rob Cole

Michael Herbert Titcomb, rugby referee and teacher: born Bristol 23 April 1933; married 1964 Patsy Reynolds (two sons, one daughter); died Bristol 2 May 2008.

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried