At the start of this season Wayne Sheridan of Old Wesley RFC was elected President of the Leinster Rugby Referees. Wayne, a current active citing commissioner on the PRO 12 and European circuit is a former IRFU National Panel referee and father to Glenn who is currently on the National Panel (albeit in Connacht, but we won’t hold that against him). Gary Conway started the season refereeing at the World Rugby U20 Championship. Dudley Phillips was busy at the Pacific Nations Cup where he touch judged a number of games. Tim Townend who was promoted to the IRFU National Referees panel and Helen O’Reilly who was promoted to the ‘A’ Panel in the summer panel appointments. It was also a busy summer for out kit men – Dan Wallace and Kevin Beggs with the help, as always of Denis Collins. We were delighted to welcome Bank of Ireland on board as our new kit sponsor.
The season kicked off with our annual seminar on August 16th in Old Wesley RFC. 175 plus referees attended the day, one of our largest attendances to date showing the increase popularity in refereeing within Leinster and the excellent work done by the IRFU Recruitment officers and area representatives. David O’Brien conducted the pre-Season presentation and the key points and focus areas for referees this season. They include Rugby Values – Players appealing for decisions, playing acting, diving or displaying un-sportsman like behaviour must be sanctioned / managed. Players exaggerating an offence may have that penalty reversed and simulation should be penalised as a minimum. These facets are something we have seen throughout the rugby world cup. A full list can be found on our website www.arlb.ie
We had our tradition golf outing during the summer in St Anne’s Golf Club on Dublin Bay although the conditions were more wintery, a great day was enjoyed by all. Pat Carolan was the Brindley cup winner with 37 points on the day with Brian MacNeice active referee winner and Paul Delaney was visitor winner. David ‘John Daly’ Petherbridge won the longest drive with a monster that Bubba would have been proud of and Kevin Beggs won the Muggs Cup.
September and October saw the start of the area meetings across Leinster facilitated by our great area reps – Tom Keating, Grahame Douglas, Brendan Conroy, Norman Carter and Simon Porter. The province is broken into five areas for refereeing – North East, North Midlands, Midlands, South East and Metropolitan. Each area has an elected representative who manages the referees and new members in his given area. Each month the areas have their own meetings amongst their members. The first month saw the focus remain on the key refereeing points for the season which, for those interested are on our website. Rather than re-hash previous presentations the meetings were more of an open discussion on these aspects. The meetings were facilitated by David O’Brien of the IRFU.
On Sunday 11th October the IRFU ran a superb Festival for 32 teams at Lansdowne Road and invited Leinster Rugby Referees to supply Referees – 8 attended and blew their whistle including the President Wayne Sheridan. Wayne is the only current President of the Leinster Rugby Referees to referee on main Pitch in the Aviva and possibly Lansdowne Road.
The European Season kicked off in October and a number of our referees featured both as referees and assistant referee including Dudley Philips, Gary Conway, Nigel Correll, John Carvill, Paul Haycock, Kevin Beggs and Brian MacNeice. World Rugby unveiled the appointments for the RBS Women’s 6 Nations. Leinsters Helen O’Reilly refereed Scotland v France on March 11th. Leinster Rugby Referee old boy Colm Roche was selected in the panel of World Rugby referees for the Dubai 7’s. Colm was assistant referee for the World Rugby 7’s World Series competition in Dubai and officiated at the invitational tournament in Dubai also. Colm moved over to Dubai a number of months ago and has since been refereeing under the guidance of UAE Rugby.
Leinster Rugby Referees held ‘An Evening with Alain Rolland’ in Clontarf FC on Tuesday 8th December organized by PRO Dan Wallace and Metro Representative Thomas Keating. Alain has had a hugely successful refereeing career – a World Cup Final, Heineken Cup finals, countless European games and of course 40 plus Leinster and 3 Irish caps. Alain spoke about his rugby career, his accidental move into an amazing refereeing career and his life, as portrayed in his fabulous book – The Whistle Blower: The Alain Rolland Story. Alain kindly began the evening by meeting with the new trial referees. He answered many questions covering the breakdown, materiality, positioning, and the balance required by a referee between being vocal and not speaking at all, something which he mastered throughout his refereeing career. He imparted key tips on the scrum from his experience to assist the trial referees in seeing the telltale signs of problems with the scrum amongst other things. This was invaluable experience for the trial referees to tap into a referee who has seen it all and refereed at the very top of the game, most notably the World Cup Final in 2007.
The dust settled on the Bank of Ireland sponsored Leinster Schools Senior and Junior Cups in March. Well done to Belvedere College and Blackrock College on great wins. Of course these great finals could not have happened without some great refereeing. There was a team of seven involved in the Senior Cup Final in the RDS. Congratulations to Dermot Blake on a fine game and a well-deserved appointment. Dermot was assisted by Paul Haycock and Brian Montayne, Simon Owens and Mark Power were the 4th and 5th officials , Kevin Beggs was in the TMO box and Tom Aplin was the match assessor. For the Junior Cup final there was a team of five in place. Gary Glennon was the referee for the game between St Michaels College and Blackrock College, with Chris Reynolds and Bernie White on the line. Susan Carty and Kevin Bolger were 4th and 5th officials.
A great tribute was made to George Clare on his retirement as a Leinster Branch Referee. George refereed his last match recently which was the Leinster League clash between Balbriggan and Athy. A great number of referees and officials were in attendance to pay tribute to George, who has given many years of service to the game of rugby, and we are truly thankful to him for this. After the match, presentations were made to George. President of Balbriggan RFC David McFadden made a presentation on behalf of Balbriggan RFC. This was followed by a presentation by Seamie Briscoe on behalf of the clubs of the Northeast. Finally the Vice-President of the Referees of the Leinster Branch David McDonald also made a presentation to George. George has refereed Balbriggan matches many times over the years. Thank you George for all you have done for the game of rugby, and we wish you well on your retirement. Incidentally George stepped in to referee an UBL game at Suttonians five years ago with a minutes notice when Gareth Dunlops knee gave up. Not a problem to him and he received his IRFU jersey some days later.
Irish and Leinster former international referee Alain Rolland was appointed as World Rugby’s ‘High Performance 15s Match Officials’ Manager’ in March. He replaces Frenchman Joël Jutge, who decided to stand down after four successful years in the role. Leinsters Helen O’Reilly has made rugby history by becoming the first female to officiate in the Guinness Pro12. Helen ran the line on Friday 25th March in Munster’s game with Zebre at Thomond Park. Last year Helen became the first woman to officiate a UBL game and also refereed at the Women’s Rugby World Cup. Helen , who has risen swiftly through the ranks and was appointed to the Irish Rugby Football Union’s national referee panel in December 2014. A referee breaking new ground in the game of rugby, she has previously refereed at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and in Ulster Bank League matches in Ireland which is a level below the Pro12. Her appearance on the line in Munster’s 47-0 thrashing of Zebre means she is now one step closer to taking charge of a game in the cross-border competition.
The annual dinner of the Leinster Rugby Referees is the highlight of our somewhat limited social calendar and is always a great event. This year it took place in Wanderers FC on Saturday April 16th was hosted by Leinster Rugby Referees President Wayne Sheridan of Old Wesley RFC. On the night our much anticipated annual awards are handed out. Brendan Jenkinson of Terenure College RFC won the lifetime achievement award. Brendan Conroy of Athy RFC won the Harry Ardil award. Terenure College RFC won the club of the year award and Dermot Blake won the referee of the year award. Norman Carter was also rewarded for his years of hard work, receiving the Beauchamps Special Merit Award at the Leinster Gala Ball.