New Year's Honours: Ex-referee Stuart Cummings honoured with MBE
Last Updated: 07/01/14 1:45pm
Former rugby league referee Stuart Cummings admits it "means a lot" to have his quarter-century career in the game acknowledged with an MBE.
Cummings, 53, has been recognised in the New Year Honours for his services to rugby league.
He spent 11 years as a top-flight match official before taking over as the Rugby Football League's referees' chief in 2002, a position he relinquished last March.
As a referee Cummings oversaw four Challenge Cup finals, two Super League Grand Finals and two World Cup finals. In his latter role as match officials director, he oversaw Super League's move to full-time referees.
"It was back in November when I received the letter. There was a bit of thinking, 'Is it a wind-up?', but I soon realised it wasn't."
Cummings said: "I am really pleased. You do something for so many years and you just get on the treadmill, it keeps going round and round.
"It's not until afterwards when something like this happens that you get time to reflect and see how much you have actually done. It is nice to be honoured in this way. It was a complete surprise.
"It was back in November when I received the letter. There was a bit of thinking, 'Is it a wind-up?', but I soon realised it wasn't.
"I'm really pleased, it means a lot."
Cummings, a former PE teacher, began refereeing in 1988 and was promoted to the top panel three years later.
He was one of the most respected and recognised referees of the early Super League era and featured regularly on the international scene.
He said: "I loved refereeing and I probably retired too early because the opportunity to be in charge of the referees came along.
"But it was a very interesting period. Taking them into the full-time environment was a massive challenge, as were some of the big games I refereed.
"Of them there are the three that stand out: the first Challenge Cup final I did in 1996 between St Helens and Bradford, it ended up 40-32 and it was a fantastic game; then obviously the two World Cup finals.
"I am really pleased with the way things turned out and I am pleased my career has been marked in this way."
Cummings is still involved in the game as a television analyst and recently oversaw match official appointments for the World Cup.
He has also set up his own consultancy business with the aim of helping various sports. He has already done additional work with the RFL and is also working with British Weight Lifting.
Cummings also believes his honour is good for the sport of rugby league.
"It is a fantastic sport," he said. "We all think it should get more recognition than it does, so it is nice when we can put something like this out about our sport. We should be very proud of it."