GRAHAM PETERSEN – A GREAT AMONG RUGBY REFEREES AND BASEBALL OFFICIALS
IT IS apt that Graham Petersen should have been a member of a rugby club called Perseverance for more than 70 years (and counting).
For, throughout his career as a player, referee and administrator – and then as a baseball and softball official – he built his reputation on a foundation of dogged determination.
It is what made him so good at whatever he tried his hand at.
Born in 1936 in Mowbray, near Cape Town, Petersen joined Persies (which celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2019), at the age of 11.
In 1952, as a 16-year-old, he began playing senior rugby, for the club’s third team as a fullback. But at Athlone High, he shifted from the backline to the engine-room, representing the schools’ team as its Number 8.
He captained Persies’ second team for about 10 years and was also at the helm of the City and Suburban Union’s second team, twice leading them to victory in the SA Rugby Flag Trophy competition.
Petersen’s move into refereeing was gradual., beginning with club games at City and Suburban while continuing to play. But once he decided to concentrate fully on refereeing, he threw all his energies into his new career.
Demonstrating that hard work is usually rewarded, he rose rapidly up the ranks of the SACOS-affiliated SA Rugby Union (SARU). Soon, he was entrusted with some of SARU’s top provincial games, including two SA Cup finals.
Always willing to ‘give back’, Petersen mentored some of the national body’s top officials, including the late Eddie Hendricks (also of baseball fame), the late Ramon Poggenpoel and Sam Dube.
He served on the executive of both the WP Rugby Referees Association and the SARU Referee’s Committee (in the important position of examiner).
Like many other sports lovers of that time, Petersen had a sport for both seasons. His summer sport was baseball.
In 1956, he joined St Andrews Dodgers, where he played with many of the greats of yesteryear, including Gerry Gooding, Reggie and Norman Mitchell and Donnie Herman. In 1956, he founded the Ridgeville Softball Club with his late wife, Violet, and a few family friends.
Later, he served on the executive committee of the WP Baseball and Softball Union.
He was elected the first chair of the Western Cape Baseball and Softball Union, which was formed to facilitate inter-club matches between the local baseball and softball unions.
He is a life member of the WP Baseball and Softball Union.