By Alexander McCowan
THE CYPRUS Rugby community was stunned to hear of the sudden death earlier this week of their premier referee and executive associate, Keith Elliott.
Keith was deeply involved in the founding of rugby on the island and officiated at many of the Moufflon’s international triumphs. He was on the FIRA (European Rugby Federation) international panel of referees.
Although in his sixties, Keith was renowned for his fitness and stamina. Just last week he refereed the clash between the Limassol Crusaders and the Royal Navy.
Many tributes have flooded in from players and friends and from European Cup countries that recalled his contribution to the game in Cyprus. Keith was respected for his firm discipline mixed with a subtle sense of humour which often relieved an explosive confrontation.
Laurence Vasiliades, president of the Cyprus Rugby Federation, said: “He was a figure that commanded instant respect in rugby circles and will be deeply missed by all that knew him. He was the referees’ representative on the executive and always made a valued contribution. He cannot be replaced.”
Vasiliades said the team would observe a period of silence before their next international game in Bulgaria in his honour.
Theo Lenos, Cyprus International team manager said: “Cyprus rugby has lost a great friend and a very fine gentleman.”
A former international banker and resident in Paris before arriving in Cyprus Keith was often called upon by federation presidents to be the Francophone voice of the Greeks when entertaining their French counterparts. Many will remember his translation for the French president at a post match celebration dinner, when one of the French speaking Moufflons said “He didn’t say that.” “No,” replied Keith, “but he should have done.”
The thoughts of all that knew him will be with his grown up family in England and his long term partner, Anna, and their three year old son, Benjamin.
There will be a memorial service at St. Catherine’s Church in Limasssol today at 2pm.