Britain’s only deaf referee told yesterdayhow officiating rugby matches is a stroll in the park – because he can’t hear abuse from furious fans and managers.
Danny Shepherd, 49, has never let his disability get in the way of his passion for sport.
The rugby addict began refereeing in 2010 and is believed to be the only deaf rugby ref in the country.
But wherever Danny travels, he bushes off any abuse because he is completely oblivious to it.
Danny, of Montrose, Scotland, who was been profoundly deaf since he was born, said: “I might be impaired but it doesn’t affect my handling of the game.
“A plus is that I can’t hear any of the abuse from the sidelines if they don’t agree with my decision.
“I’ve been impaired since birth but I’ve never let it stop me from achieving anything in my life.”
Australian-born Danny used to play rugby for two top-flight Australian sides, but after retiring from the game, he thought he would try his hand at the less physical role of being a referee and took a course with the Scottish Rugby Union two years ago.
Danny, who referees university games, club fixtures and women’s rugby, admits he wishes he was young enough to play the game again, but now he wants to inspire other people with hearing impairments to get involved in the sport.
He said: “I miss playing the game.
“Being a referee keeps me involved in the game and my fitness levels up.”
Bob Easton, a referee development manager at the Scottish Rugby Union said Danny, who is able to communicate by speech and lip-reading, was an inspiration to others.
He said: “He is very enthusiastic and keen to learn and as a result has progressed fairly quickly and having completed the level two refereeing course in July 2012.
“For someone with hearing difficulties he has done very well and the teams he referees speak very highly of him.”
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