18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
New Zealand referee Steve Walsh has been suspended by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for his verbal exhanges with Ireland centre/winger Shane Horgan during a Lions tour match in June.
Walsh's punishment stems from the tour match against provincial side Taranaki in June. The Lions management made an official complaint about Walsh's behaviour and he has already been reprimanded by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).
Walsh had what is described as a "heated argument" with Horgan after the Drogheda man questioned the decision.
Walsh endured a similar ban during the 2003 World Cup and is now the only member of the IRB's 23-man referee panel who will not be involved in the various Test series taking place throughout the globe over the next two months.
NZRU deputy chief executive Steve Tew stated the IRB's ruling follows sanctions from his own organisation.
"We assessed the situation and some appropriate action has been taken, which I can't go into because it involves private employment details," he told The New Zealand Herald.
"We will continue to support him - we just don't want this to happen again."
North Harbour-based Walsh will whistle the NPC Division One final between Auckland and Otago, with his next Test appointment the Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland in Cardiff on February 12.
"I have to cop it sweet," said Walsh. "That's the way it is and I have to get on with my life."