Whilst the rest of the crowd were analysing the players on the ground, it was Justin De Waal's meticulous observation of the man in the middle that gave him the inspiration to pick up the whistle.
After enjoying a season where he was honoured with overseeing the colts grand final and debuting as a Dewar Shield referee, we chatted with Justin to hear about his rise in the refereeing ranks.
Rugby Victoria (RV): 2022 saw you make your Dewar refereeing debut! Have you finally climbed your summit or is this just the beginning?
Justin De Waal (JD): It was a great experience and feeling to have made my Dewar refereeing debut and I'm hoping to be apart of it again this year.
However I see this as the beginning I hope to improve and make it further.
RV: So how did you get your start in refereeing? Where did the motivation come from?
JD: I got my start through watching a super rugby game with my Dad and as I watching the referee I felt like I could be just as good!
I've always loved the sport of rugby ever since I was a kid and I wanted to be apart of the game in some way so I thought I would become a referee.
RV: What do you recall of your first game as a referee? What was the most difficult thing you hadn't considered?
JD: It was one of the closest game that I have had and it came down to a penalty kick to win the game.
I hadn't considered that I would be able to referee a game like that before. In my first game I was very nervous but when the game started I enjoyed it so much that I immediately wanted another game.
RV: The colts grand final this year was another feather in your cap. Do you get just as nervous for big games or is that only something that affects players?
JD: I treat ever game like it is just a regular season match. There might be some nerves, but I just stay focused and try to enjoy it.
RV: Who has helped you most along your refereeing journey?
JD: My Dad has been a huge supporter since I started.
He tries to come to every game and gives me feedback. With all the coaches that I have had over the years, I'll take everything they say into my style and see what works.
I am very thankful for that.
RV: What do you enjoy most about being a referee?
JD: At the end of a game when both teams come over and say "thanks ref."
That's what makes being a referee very enjoyable for me.