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.
Daniel Collins, a 20-year-old native of Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, is currently studying at NUI Galway where he is about to enter his final year of a Civil Engineering degree.
Daniel played on the wing for the UCG Under-21s for two seasons and then looking for a different challenge, decided to take up refereeing in January 2010.
He very quickly established himself on the domestic scene in refereeing in Connacht, with his strong performances earning him a place on the IPAS (Interprovincial Appointment System) for the 2011/12 season.
This is a panel where referees, having being nominated by their province, are appointed by the IRFU to referee a number of top quality matches in other provinces.
The system enables the IRFU Referee Committee to have an accurate database at their disposal, in order to make referee appointments to the National Panel.
Daniel has refereed a number of high profile games so far in his short career but counts the Under-21 South West Conference final play-off game between Buccaneers and UCC as his biggest game so far.
He is currently in pre-season training, having just arrived back from seven weeks in Western Province in Zambia on a charity work placement in sustainable engineering. This was as part of his degree and in conjunction with the Alan Kerins Projects.
On receiving the award, Daniel said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen for this award and also with my selection to IPAS for this coming season. The IPAS will be a big challenge but it is one I am really looking forward to.
"I would like to thank the Association of Referees in Connacht for all the help and support they have given me since joining in 2010 and I hope to repay that support by having a successful season and hopefully becoming Connacht's latest addition to the National Panel.
"I must also acknowledge Owen Doyle and his IRFU Referee Department who, through David O'Brien in Connacht, have been instrumental in my development since I started."
The IRFU is always looking to recruit new referees. If you are interested, please make contact with the Referee Development Officer in your area.