Rugby: Player-referee trailblazer Glen Jackson retires

Test rugby referee Glen Jackson has hung up his whistle.

The former Maori All Blacks and Chiefs first-five became the first Kiwi to both play and referee more than 100 first-class fixtures in a career that saw him named Referee of the Year five times.

After taking up the whistle in 2010, Jackson was promoted to Super Rugby within a year and made his test debut in 2012, presiding over England v Fiji at Twickenham.

He has chalked up 32 test matches, 88 Super Rugby games and 60 Mitre 10 Cup clashes, including eight Ranfurly Shield defences.

Jackson, 43, was on the 2015 Rugby World Cup referee panel, but was controversially omitted for the Japan tournament last year, seemingly on the basis of age.

"I feel extremely privileged to have worked as a professional referee for NZ Rugby over the past 10 years, but I feel the time is right to finish and move onto something different, but hopefully still be involved with rugby," he says.

As a player, Jackson represented Bay of Plenty and the Chiefs, before a northern-hemisphere stint with Saracens, where he played 159 games and won the Golden Boot, as the English premiership's top pointscorer.

"Glen changed the shape of refereeing in our country, when he became the first top-class player to become a professional referee through the player scholarship system," says NZ Rugby referee manager Bryce Lawrence.

"Glen brought rugby nous to refereeing, strong relationships with players and coaches both domestically and internationally, and he added so much to our referee team culture by being a great team man."

That pathway has since seen former Crusaders/Chiefs halfback Jamie Nutbrown and Black Ferns flyer Selica Winiata transition into referee roles.