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.
A product of the renowned Cork city hurling nursery at North Monastery CBS, he did not play rugby until finishing school when joining Highfield RFC in 1964.
A measure of how well he adapted to the game and became a noted second row forward was underlined in the success of captaining the Highfield 1st XV in successive seasons when they won the Arklow Oval Trophy during the 1972/73 season and the Cork Charity Cup in 1974/75. He was coach of the Highfield senior team between 1978 and 1981 and became the club President for the 1987/88 season.
Married to Nuala, with two children - Orla and Brian - the 120th IRFU President turned to administration in 1991 when he became his club's delegate to the Munster Branch. In 1997 he was elected Chairman of the Branch Management Committee and the following year he assumed the role as Chairman of the Munster Provincial Team Management, holding that office until 2001.
Meanwhile, he had been elected to the IRFU Committee in 1999, from which point he has made a significant contribution as Chairman of the Youth Committee, Chairman of the Domestic Game Committee and as a member of the IRFU Management Committee. In his role as Domestic Game Chairman, Der Healy has overseen the introduction of three notable landmarks in the club game - the launching of the IRFU-AIB Community programme, the introduction of the AIB All-Ireland Senior and Junior Cup competitions and the inauguration of the club internationals for all non-contracted players.
The new IRFU President says: "The honour of being President of the IRFU is a particular one for me and my family and I especially thank my wife Nuala for all her support. My Presidency is also a great honour for my club Highfield whom I thank warmly for giving me a great grounding in the game not having played rugby in my schooldays.
"As I look forward to the season ahead and the anticipation of Ireland's challenge in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, as well as the fortunes of the provincial teams in the Heineken Cup and Magners League and the full domestic programme of games at all levels, my thoughts are in line with those expressed by each of our immediate past Presidents since the IRFU's Strategic Plan was launched three years ago. I fully support the aims of this project and reiterate that the welfare of the game at club and school levels will be a top priority of mine."