Rowan Sawers lifelong commitment to umpiring Australian football was recognised in the 2022 Australia Day honours with the award of a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
That commitment began as a teenager in the Southern Umpires and progressed through the VFL Reserve Grade (1973-1974) and promotion to the VFL senior list in 1975. In a senior career spanning 23 seasons he became the record holder for umpiring VFL matches in 1995 with 410 VFL/AFL matches.
Along the way there was success after success and a selected list of accomplishments includes: 410 VFL/AFL matches, 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1990 VFL/AFL Grand Finals, 8 State-of-Origin games, 2 International Rules tours to Ireland and induction to the AFL Hall of Fame.
At umpire association level Rowan was president, and recipient of the Bishop Shield in 1984, and became a life member the following year. He was an original inductee into the AFLUA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Following a post-season injury that curtailed his 1992 season Rowan spent the year coaching which was an introduction to the role he would successfully take on following his retirement at the end of the 1997 AFL season.
From 1998 until 2013 he was the AFL field umpires coach and a heavy influence on both the general direction of umpiring and the individual careers of dozens of field umpires.
His contribution continued following his departure from the AFL when he headed the Essendon District Football League umpires from 2014 until 2020.
As an outstanding umpire, honest, forthright and insightful coach Rowan Sawers has earned the respect and friendship of multiple generations of everyone involved in Australian football. The award of the Order of Australia is a just recognition for his contribution to the game.
Congratulations Rowan from all at the AFLUA!!!
Written by: David Flegg AM – AFLUA Historian