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Rest in Peace – Baden Whale

Baden Whale Life Member of the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union and Wairarapa Bush Rugby Referees Association.


It with great sadness to hear the news, Baden Whale passed away overnight in Masterton.

On behalf of the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Referee Association and the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Community we pass on our condolences, prayers and support to Baden’s family.

Graeme Reisima, Chairman of the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Referees Association said, “The entire refereeing community of Wairarapa Bush Rugby is reeling from the news of the sudden passing of Baden Whale yesterday (14 January 2021).

Baden was an icon in our small union and was a friend and mentor to everyone. A referee with unbelievable humility and wise counsel on all aspects of rugby he was still involved as late as the 2020 season watching and coaching current referees. His presence on all our local grounds was a common sight and his company was sought by many after the game when he enjoyed the social aspects of our great sport.

His achievements in the sport of refereeing were too great to list and in his humble way he wouldn’t want them listed. Suffice to say that he was a life member of both the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Referees Association as well as the parent body, the WBRU which illustrated how his service had been recognised by both bodies.

Baden’s loyalty and dedication to our sport will be almost impossible to match and it was best shown by how he had held every role in the association over his 50 plus years of involvement, some more than once.

His love for the game and quiet unassuming manner will be sorely missed.

In the refereeing world, a mighty Totara has fallen.

The WBRRA passed its sincere condolences onto Baden’s family at their huge loss.”

Tony Hargood, Chief Executive of the WBRU said “Baden was a true gentleman of our game and we can only sit back admire his incredible generosity, calmness, wisdom, and fairness that he bought to all who he came in contact with or worked alongside. His humbleness as a person, will be the enduring legacy he will leave with us all.

Baden was a Life Member of both the Rugby Union and Referees Association and held various other roles in the rugby community, however Baden will always be known for referee achievements.

Baden refereed over 230 premier games and hundreds of many other games in his 50 years as a referee. Baden retired from active refereeing in 2012, at the age of 75.

However it is not widely known, Baden refereed the British Lions against Nelson Bays in 1966, an honour, so few have achieved.

Such was his love of the game and the people, in 2020 when Covid struck, Baden and his friend Keith Hannam would drive around the different games which were played behind closed gates, and present themselves as referee assessors to the Covid event managers, to get in.

On behalf of the WBRU rugby community, we thank Baden for all has he done for the Wairarapa and Wairarapa rugby community.

First Class Referee Career:
Whale, Baden George : Referee (Wairarapa)

  • 1965 Wairarapa v Horowhenua, Wairarapa v Hawkes Bay
  • 1966 Wairarapa v Wellington, Marlborough-Nelson v British Isles , Golden Bay-Motueka v British Isles;
  • 1967 Wairarapa v King Country
  • 1968 Wairarapa v Bush, Wairarapa v Hawkes Bay
  • 1969 Wairarapa v Wellington, Wairarapa v Bush
  • 1970 Wairarapa v Wanganui ; (Wairarapa Bush)
  • 1971 Wairarapa Bush v Wellington
  • 1972 Wairarapa Bush v West Cost, Wairarapa Bush v Manawatu
  • 1973 Wairarapa Bush v Wellington, Wairarapa Bush v Southland
  • 1974 Wairarapa Bush v NZ Colts, Wairarapa Bush v Auckland ‘B’
  • 1975 Wairarapa Bush v Wellington ,Marlborough v Wairarapa Bush , Wairarapa Bush v South Canterbury
  • 1976 Wairarapa Bush v Manawatu, Wairarapa Bush v South Canterbury
  • 1977 Wairarapa Bush v Hawkes Bay,  Horowhenua v Waikato
    • 25 games.