When international rugby player Mike Adamson came to the end of his playing career he didn’t pack his boots away. The 32-year-old from Scotland has become one of the world’s leading rugby referees and had the honour of officiating the opening game of the Olympic men’s tournament at 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
He spoke to us about his successful career transition, and his memorable Olympic experience.

Describe your emotions when you finished your playing career?

It was a bit bittersweet, knowing that I’d be finishing something that I loved doing for over 20 years.  However, the excitement of a new challenge was great, with new goals to aim for!

How did your transition from player to referee come about?

Whilst still playing for Glasgow Hawks, I was already refereeing a bit of school and university rugby during the week.  And after speaking with Andrew Macpherson (SRU Referee Development Manager) we planned a good way to integrate playing and refereeing, finishing playing at the end of 2013.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I guess the only thing I would’ve done differently would have been to start refereeing sooner.  Knowing that there are a lot of opportunities to referee whilst still playing.  I think this would’ve helped the beginning of my development.

What encouragement can you offer athletes who fear retirement?

I think once you get to a stage in your career where you’ve achieved everything that you can, there are a lot of opportunities to keep involved in the sport.  Be it refereeing, coaching, volunteering, administration.  I also think it is important to give back to your sport and support the growth of it after what it has given you.

Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio. How did it feel to be involved?

With it being such a huge moment for the sport, it was very special to be a part of it.  I had the privilege of refereeing the opening game of the Men’s competition.  It was the most nervous I had been in a long time, knowing how important every game and every decision was.  As a group of referees, the team had been together for over 2 years and are now great friends so it was amazing to share it with them also.

3 Key Points

  • There are a lot of opportunities to keep involved in your sport
  • Develop your skills as early as possible
  • Have fresh goals to aim for