10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
His great passion however became rowing, which he took up when he was sixteen years old and he has been involved ever since with a huge degree of success.
He has four National titles and was a member of the National squad for World championships in 1992 (Montreal), 1993 (Prague) and 1995 (Tampere). His best finish was 9th in '93. An honourary life member of Shannon Rowing Club, he has a big collection of medals won at international regattas between 1992 & 1996.
O'Callaghan went to UL as a mature student and graduated with a degree in Sports & Exercise Science in 1998. He did a small bit of work with Young Munster in the '98/'99 season when Brian Hickey was coach ( "little did I realise then that I would be working with him in the Munster set up a few years later") and worked with the NCTC in Limerick before joining Munster in June 1999.
For O'Callaghan there is no such thing as a typical day. "With Munster there is always something new going on." he says. "Generally on a match week we do two fitness sessions on a Monday (weights and running), rugby on Tuesday and Wednesday (injured players do rehab), fitness on Thursday (agility & weights), rest Friday and then the game on Saturday."
"Most days are busy for the backroom staff, Mark, Kirsty and me. We are basically on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (basically if the players want something, we do our best to oblige them). The players nearly always come first, no such thing as bank holidays for us."
So in down-time what does Fergal O'Callaghan do with his (few) hours. "I am now playing with Old Cresent Thirds, recent winners of the Junior Two Millennium Cup. I don't have too much for hobbies really but I like to read, play golf " - he plays very well considering the lack of time to practice - "and keep in touch with what's going on in rowing."
And his ambitions ?
" I have been very lucky to work with a team that has made two ERC finals and one semi final. In time I would love to work with the Irish squad for a World Cup campaign and go on a Lions tour and eventually put something back into rowing.