The question has been asked after former Harlequins nine Karl Dickson called their game against Bristol Bears

Should former players be able to referee their old clubs?

There was already enough to talk about in the game, as Bristol Bears held out to defeat Harlequins 15-12 in the Gallagher Premiership recently. Not only was there a sensational try-saving effort to prevent Andre Esterhuizen from scoring a winner, as AJ MacGinty tap-tackled the South African centre and Tom Whiteley flew in to create a knock-on, but there was also the spat that left fans asking: “What did Joe Marler say to Jake Heenan?

However, in the aftermath another question has been posed: is it alright for an ex-player to referee a match involving their former employers?

Karl Dickson wore the quarters of Harlequins on 169 occasions, and has risen through the ranks as a match official. During the Autumn Nations Series, he was in the middle for Scotland versus Argentina.

Yet, while his reputation is growing in the game and he is highly respected by his peers, some are asking if it is fair to put him in the position of whistling a game his old side are playing in. It’s a potentially lose-lose situation for him, no matter how diligent and professional he is.

It is worth having a conversation about as there are other former players in the pro game today, as match officials, and there is likely to be more fast-tracking of former pros in the future.

As well as Dickson, there is the Australian Nic Berry who represented Queensland Reds, Racing and Wasps. Mike Adamson played for Scotland Sevens and had a brief stint with Glasgow Warriors. Frank Murphy was a nine for Munster, Leicester and Connacht.

So what do you think – should we back these officials in any game, or should we avoid putting them in a position where they can be accused of bias for/against their old clubs?

Let us know what you think via or on our social media channels.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.