Seven new referees have been promoted onto the IRFU National Panel for the 2019/2020 season. The announcement was made at the IRFU National Referee Camp on July 27th, 2019.
The officials were promoted on the basis of their performance in the Inter Provincial Assessment System (IPAS), which sees them referee a series of six games outside of their own province.
Ireland Men’s National Team Coach Joe Schmidt presented the newly promoted referees with their jerseys at Camp in Johnstown Estate in Co. Meath. They will be eligible for selection to referee in the Energia All-Ireland League and representative fixtures in the coming season.
“They are now in the top 10% of referees in the country so it’s a big achievement for them and they’ll be wearing the IRFU crest as part of our national competition,” said Irish Rugby’s National Referee Manager David Wilkinson.
“We’re very proud of our refereeing structures. We’ve got three referee associations and one referee society across the four provinces. Without them and the help and support poured into grassroots rugby, we wouldn’t have a platform to get over 50 referees to this level at National Camp.”
The new National Panel referees are Keane Davison, John Flynn, Rob McGreer, Andrew Mitchell, Paul O’Connor, Pádraic Reidy and Paudie Sheehan.
A Ballymena man with “a wee bit of AIL rugby” under his belt, Rob McGreer took the advice of his father in trading in his gum shield for a whistle. “I didn’t listen to him at first,” says Rob who loved his time as a player. “Maybe I should have. I’m a bit late to refereeing but delighted to make it this far.”
Paudie Sheehan is a Cork City native with almost 10 years of service playing All-Ireland League rugby with Sundays Well. After hanging up his playing boots, Kieran Barry and Eddie Hogan O’Connell encouraged him to take up refereeing. Five years later, he is looking forward to the challenge of refereeing in the Energia All-Ireland League.
Andrew Mitchell played his rugby with Donaghadee until 2015. “I was going to do coaching badges,” he says “before I saw on the Ulster Rugby website that there was a referee’s course coming up. I was a pretty good armchair referee so I thought I’d give it a go. I had a chat with David Wilkinson and told him I wanted to go to the All-Ireland League. He said the opportunity is there and I’ve been working toward it since.”
Joe Schmidt’s appearance at Camp was a surprise for the newly promoted referees. “We didn’t expect that,” said Pádraic Reidy. Pádraic had played rugby in school in his native Limerick, but it wasn’t until he moved to Dublin that refereeing offered him a route back into the game.
“Joe’s an absolute legend so to meet him for the first time and receive the jersey from him was pretty special.”
Omagh was Keane Davison’s club as he rose through the ranks. Much like his fellow Tyrone men, he is also looking forward to testing himself at All-Ireland League level in 2019.
Paul O’Connor is of Richmond RFC stock in Limerick and first took to refereeing as a 16-year-old in St. Munchin’s College. He took a break from the game before making the breakthrough with the Leinster Rugby Referees.
For John Flynn, club and school meant the same thing. “I played for Blackrock College before transitioning into refereeing,” he says.
“I’m coming into my ninth season now. It’s exciting. It’s great to attend camp. It’s something I’ve wanted for a few years now and it’s great to be a part of it.”
There are eight New Referees Courses being held in the months of August and September 2019. These courses are designed to introduce prospective referees to the basics of refereeing.
They typically start at 09:30 in the morning and run until 16:30 with an hour for lunch. Midweek options are also available (over two nights) in Limerick and Cork.
If you are interested in becoming a referee, you are welcome to contact the relevant person below in relation to the following upcoming courses:
- Saturday 7th September, McWilliam Park Hotel, Kilcolman Road, Claremorris, Co. Mayo
- Sunday 8th September, The Connacht Hotel, Old Dublin Road, Galway
To book or enquire, contact Peter Fitzgibbon, Referee Development / Education Manager:
email: email@example.com, mobile: +353 86 832 2987
- Saturday 24thAugust, Terenure College School, Templeogue Rd, Terenure, Dublin, D6W DK72
To book or enquire, contact Sean Gallagher, High Performance Referee
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: +353 86 100 3985
- Saturday 14th September, Hibernian Hotel, Main Street, Mallow, Co. Cork
- Monday 16th September and Tuesday 17th September (18:30 – 21:00), Limerick Institute of Technology, Moylish Park, Limerick
- Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th September (18:30 – 21:00), Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork
- Sunday 22nd September, Charleville Park Hotel, Limerick Road, Charleville, Co. Cork
To book or enquire, contact Chris Harrington, Referee Development Manager:
email: email@example.com, mobile: +353 87 2750586
- Saturday 17th August, New Forge Sports Complex, 18b Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5NW
To book or enquire, contact Richard Kerr, Referee Development Manager:
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: +44 7493 868 388