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.
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll on the attack against England last February
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Leinster Rugby are pleased to announce that Ireland and Leinster captain Brian O'Driscoll has agreed a new contract that will see him continue to play in Ireland until the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in 2007.
O'Driscoll's commitment to Leinster and Irish rugby is part of the ongoing contractual negotiations with Irish International and provincial players.
Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the IRFU, said: "The IRFU is delighted that Brian has pledged his immediate future to Leinster and that he will continue to play his rugby in Ireland. There is no doubting his ability at the very highest level and it is a testament to both Brian and to the current structures that are in place at both provincial and international level that he has chosen to remain in Ireland.
"It is the on-going determination of the IRFU where possible to keep the leading players at home and manage their welfare. It is, therefore, most pleasing to see that a player of Brian's standing in the game has committed himself to both club and country," he added.
Leinster Rugby Chief Executive Mick Dawson said: "I'm delighted that Brian has committed himself to Leinster Rugby. This will be a great boost to all involved with the team, his fellow players, the coaching staff and not least the supporters. It's very important to us that we keep our best players at home and continue to be as competitive as possible in all competitions. I now look forward to seeing Brian back playing as soon as possible."
Brian O'Driscoll admitted: "My desire from the beginning of this season has always been to play for Leinster and Ireland and I am thrilled to remain within the current set up. I am now looking forward to getting myself back on the field playing as soon as possible and working with the coaching staff in both Leinster and Ireland for the remainder of the season."
Star centre O'Driscoll is expected to make his return from a dislocated right shoulder in Leinster's Celtic League clash with Ulster on St Stephen's Day.