Referees Corner – Issue 6 – Ulster – 2023/24

January 2, 2024 in News

Welcome to another edition of Referees Corner and a Happy New Year to everyone. A very warm welcome to Frank Murphy, today’s match referee and his team. Frank is a former rugby player. Originally from Cork, Murphy played for his native province of Munster before moving to the English side Leicester Tigers, with whom he won a Premiership title, and then finished his career with Connacht, another Irish province, making over 100 appearances for the side. 


He began refereeing in the All-Ireland League in 2015, progressing to referee in the British and Irish Cup later that year. He began refereeing at international level in 2016, and has taken charge of games in the European Nations Cup. In November 2016, Murphy took charge of his first Pro12 game, and has since gone on to referee in the Challenge Cup at European level. Today he is ably assisted by his IRFU Referee colleagues Eoghan Cross and Tomas O’Sullivan with  Joy Neville in the TMO booth. We wish them all well. 

We had a very busy and successful 2023. We kicked off the year with a New Referees Course in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy on Saturday 14, January 2023. The course was open to those aged 18 – 59, who would like to take up refereeing as a hobby and become members of Leinster Rugby Referees. We had a turnout of almost 20 new referees. One important factor in this course was that it was the first one to be held outside of Dublin and in the South East. 

We held our mid-season seminar on Tuesday 17th January in the Green Isle Hotel. Over 100 of our active referees attended the course. Mick Dawson, former CEO of Leinster Rugby, and honorary Leinster Rugby Referee was the special guest and spoke about his time at Leinster from the beginning in Donnybrook to the fantastic club it has become today.

Padraic Reidy was appointed to the 2023 Bank of Ireland Schools Senior Cup Final between Gonzaga and Blackrock College. Padraic was assisted by last year’s final referee Andrew Cole and also Sam Holt. Jonny Hollywood and Wayne Sheridan were 4th and 5th official, with Brian MacNeice TMO and Dan Wallace as Time Keeper. 


At our annual dinner in March, our annual awards were handed out. The Ham Lambert lifetime achievement award winner was David MacDonald of Seapoint RFC who has devoted a number of years to the association. The award for referee of the year is named after Harold ‘Harry’ Ardill. This year’s award went to long serving member Trevor McHugh. This year’s recipients of the Terry Doyle Memorial Award for Club of the Year were first time winners Balbriggan RFC. The Alain Rolland Referee Performance of the Year was won by Padraic Reidy. The last award of the night was the Denis Collins Perpetual Award for Progressive Referee. This year’s winner was Ciaran O’Flynn. 


The Leinster Schools Junior Challenge Cup final took place on March 27 between Blackrock College and St Michael’s College in Energia Park. Paul O’Connor was the man in the middle with, Simon Owens and Jonathon Hollywood (Touch Judges), James Fegan and Keith Spendlove (4th and 5th Official). 


On Thursday 27th April we held our AGM. Tom Tuohy of Boyne RFC was elected President of the Association following in the footsteps of Gordon Condell of Clondalkin RFC who had an excellent year in charge. 


On Friday 28th April the annual golf outing of the Leinster Rugby Referees took place. Peter Fagan was the overall winner with Padraig Hearns bringing home the active referees prize. 


During the season we made over 4,500 appointments.  We now have over 225 referees, including 10 females, who are full active members of the Leinster Rugby Referees. We brought over 50 trial members on board of which over 30 are now full members. We had 28 mentors in place to support new and existing referees completing over 150 referee reports. 


34 trainees who attended the Leinster Rugby Referees New Referee Courses in Carlow and Maynooth during August. This excellent turnout was a result of the hard work and recruitment put in by Sean Gallagher and team over the summer. It was great to see so many enthusiastic recruits turn up.


A few of our referees had a very busy summer, namely Andrew Cole, Robbie Jenkinson and Brian MacNeice who represented the Leinster Rugby Referees at the Rugby World Cup in his capacity as TMO. Brian was also involved in the Rugby Championship game between South Africa and Argentina and their World Cup warm up game along with the warm up games between England and Wales, France and Fiji and South Africa and New Zealand. 


Want to get involved? 

Referees provide a vital function in servicing all levels of the game. Whether you aspire to referee at the highest level or to referee locally, there is a place for you. There are excellent support structures to develop referees and a thriving social aspect too. Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at  If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook, our website or through twitter @leinsterreferee