A RUGBY player who turned to coaching and refereeing after breaking his neck aged just 20 has been recognised in the New Year's Honours List with an MBE.

John Voss, 50, from Barry, has received the accolade for services to rugby, as a result of his work not only promoting and training rugby referees across the country, but also for developing the women's game within the military, working with disabled youngsters and helping to organise tournaments for Fijian ex-pats.

Mr Voss was a promising youngster playing club rugby in his home town of Bath when he suffered a horrific injury, breaking his neck in a judo accident that prevented him from playing to a high standard.

But after recovering from the incident which he said left him fearing for his life, Mr Voss continued to progress both within rugby and the military, where he served for 30 years in both the infantry and engineering divisions.

After moving into coaching and refereeing shortly after his injury, Mr Voss was appointed as coach of the Army Women's XV in 2005, with his work helping the women's game to become fully recognised within the military.

As a referee, Mr Voss has helped to train more than 3,000 others and has officiated games across the globe across the past 28 years.

And more recently, he has also played a major part in training the Ospreys Youth Wheelchair Rugby side, helping many youngsters to get involved in the game for the first time.

Reflecting on the award, Mr Voss said: "It was a shock obviously, it’s a very surreal position to be in.

"Your focus hasn’t been to gain reward. Your focus has been to bring others forward – whether that’s someone with autism refereeing their first game of rugby, or seeing someone who is disabled to pass a ball for the first time.

"It just seems surreal. It’s more interesting to see other people get it than yourself."

Mr Voss will receive his MBE at a ceremony early next year.