'Charlie' Watts is a rugby referee and a genuine character through and through!

With Zinzan Brook and Rupert Moon

Rugby Referees' Feature:

Charlie WattsCharlie Watts is a well-known rugby referee who has lived for many years in Neyland after starting out life in the Bridgend area and is very well liked in the town and beyond for his sporting involvement at The Athletic Club as a larger than life character.
Charlie was christened ‘Neil’ by his parents all of 59 years ago but picked up his nickname of ‘Charlie’ when he was about 20 and worked at the Sony Factory in Bridgend alongside another feller named Neil. There always seemed to be a mix-up when people left messages or gave them a shout-out in the factory until one clever blighter said he thought that our Mr Watts looked just like Charlie Brown, the American cartoon character!
“He started calling me Charlie and it somehow stuck, and I’m happy with it now – although it makes me laugh when older folk in this area think that at one time in my life I must have had long hair like the original Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer!”

Family matters . . .

On the family front, Charlie would be the first to admit that he owes a lot to his long-suffering wife Wendy for her support in his sport, although she isn’t particularly sports-minded.
Charlie set out as a rugby referee after his younger son Josh started to play for Neyland RFC juniors and since they rarely had an official ref he often took on the job; and decided to take the Level Two course, which took place at Carmarthen Athletic – and they had a stimulating session with the legendary Nigel Owens as part of it.
His older son Dean is a greenkeeper at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club and plays off a handicap of six.

Reception invitation for The Rugby World Cup 2015Golf follows a serious footballing injury

That is far better than Charlie has ever achieved after taking to the game after sustaining a nasty knee injury as a sweeper or centre half in Welsh League football with Garw United, playing against the likes of Barry Town, Merthyr Town, Pontardawe and the South Wales Police.
“As a youngster I helped the second team win the Bridgend and District Championship and then enjoyed a long run in the first team until a bad injury ended all that,” admitted Charlie with typical straight forward talking and a bit of a grimace!”
“I had the operation and that is when I took up golf at Southerndown Golf Club and played matches at other quality South Wales courses like Pyle and Kenfig Hill, St Pierre and Brecon, reducing my handicap to nine as I won four of the club’s major trophies, including the 36-hole title from the championship tees, before I left the area in 2002 to come here”.

Great time as a Walker Cup Steward

Staying with golf, Charlie was lucky that when the Walker Cup was held against the USA at Royal Porthcawl he was one of the first to volunteer for the whole of the three days and found himself as a senior steward, keeping the crowds back.
“On one occasion I had to move them back because a young American hit his ball way out of line into the deep rough - and that youngster was Tiger Woods”

Jeff starts him off in Neyland football . . .

 “I got involved in sport in Neyland after a chance meeting with Jeff Button in Neyland Yacht Club, with Jeff starting up an U13’s football team and wanting some help with it.
“From there I then helped out Neyland seconds playing alongside the likes of Andrew “Moley” Cole Paul “Skinno “Davies and even Jeff making an appearance on the odd occasion.
“I even managed a few games for the 1st team in goals when they were very short!

. . . And Jack joined him in rugby coaching before he joined ‘Evs’ in the Neyland first XV!

“From there I went on to set up an under 8’s rugby team which my son Josh played for and Jack Kinnersley and I ended up coaching the rugby team up to the age of U11 but had to disband it as we could not get enough players to carry on to U12’s
“I then became more involved with Neyland RFC, sitting on the junior and senior committees and again help out playing for the second team this time and even played for the 1st XV along with the great clubman and Neyland stalwart Steve “Evs “ Evans, giving us the combined aged of 96 on that day along with our only replacement being ‘Popeye’ Walters.

“Once my rugby ‘career’ had finished I found myself at a loss on Saturday afternoons and was getting under my wife Wendy’s feet.

With Nigel Owens and some of his Neyland pals

Took up reffing in earnest after getting under Wendy’s feet!

“I had done my level one refereeing course and I contacted the WRU referee’s department and started my path as a level two ref, doing youth and 2nd team games firstly in Pembrokeshire then the whole of the Scarlets region, but with the shortage of refs travelling back as far as to my home town Bridgend and helping out the in Ospreys’ region.
“I have been very fortunate that I reffed the last two Griffiths Cup Finals which are always held in Neyland and I’ve help out on Pembrokeshire Junior Finals day over the past five years.

Invitation to Buckingham Palace

Visited Buckingham Palace – and spoke to Princess Anne!

“But my biggest achievement and memory from rugby does not  come from any game but from the fact I was a volunteer for the Rugby World Cup of 2015, where Cardiff hosted eight games.
“I was very fortunate to be involved via the WRU referee department to become a member of the workforce operations team based in Cardiff and a year before the first ball had been kicked I was part of a team and helped interview and select the thousands of others who volunteered to help out across 11 host cities around the UK.
“Being involved from that very early period I was very honoured to be invited to Buckingham Place by Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of  Edinburgh to a reception on Monday 12th October 2015 at 5.30pm.
“It was like a who’s who of rugby, with all the team coaches and captains present along with all the top refereeing officials. Then there were senior members from world rugby along with many other guests.
“Prince Harry did the opening speech and HRH Princess Anne stopped and spoke with me about my involvement of the world cup.
“But the best part was that after the reception had finished we walked across the main courtyard through the main gate at the front of Buckingham Palace, with loads of tourists taking  pictures of us all as if we were famous or important.
“Little did they know that I was some lower level ref whose passion for the game got him to a royal reception!

Outside Buckingham Palace in the evening