Referees Corner – Issue 8 – Benetton Treviso – 2023/24

February 18, 2024 in News

Welcome to another edition of Referees Corner. It is great to see today’s match referee, Hollie Davidson, back at the RDS. She is assisted by Eoghan Cross and Tomas O’Sullivan, with Colin Brett in the TMO box. On the sidelines the dynamic duo of John Carvill and Mark Gargan are the fourth and fifth officials with Barry O’Keefee on the clock. In 2015 Hollie Davidson joined the SRU’s refereeing course, when a new course was held on Saturdays. Prior to this time the refereeing courses were held on Sunday, the same day as women’s professional rugby matches, thus making it impossible for women to train as referees. Davidson became Scottish Rugby Union’s first full time professional women’s referee in 2017.

In 2018, Davidson was Assistant Referee for the Glasgow Warriors v Zebre match in the Pro14 an in 2019 she became the first woman to referee in the Melrose Sevens. She refereed her first Pro14 fixture on 19 March 2021; a Munster v Benetton match, winning plaudits from the Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan. From 2017 Davidson has refereed in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens.In 2018 she refereed in the Rugby Europe, the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup Sevens

Davidson has refereed in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations Championship and in 2021 Davidson was chosen as one of the referees for the rugby 7’s tournament at the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics. In 2023 Davidson was the only female member of the panel of referees for the 2023 World Rugby U20 Championship. She was also appointed to be an assistant referee in 3 full international warm-up matches for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. She is a trailblazer and excellent referee and we’re looking forward to seeing her in action today.

Schools Cup:

The first thing most referees look forward to after the Christmas period is the Bank of Ireland sponsored Leinster Schools Senior and Junior Challenge Cups. The draw in December kicks this off, but it is the selection of referees that is greatly anticipated. Refereeing a schools cup game, be it on the great new surface in Donnybrook, the RDS, or any other club in Leinster is one of the highlights or any referees career. Not every referee gets to do one so being selected makes it a bit more special. Some referees may never have played to that level in schools, some may not have played rugby in schools at all and some are reliving past glories on the D4 pitch.  


Whilst any schools cup game is special for the players, it is equally special for the referee. Some referees may never be lucky enough to referee a game in front of a big crowd again, others may never referee on TV again, so it is an opportunity to be cherished. We’ve already had some great games this season, with plenty more to look forward to. Paul Haycock, Dermot Blake, Sam Holt and Colm Roche will referee the four quarter finals of the Senior Cup this year with all games taking place in Energia Park.


One of my favorite refereeing memories that will stick with me will be my first venture onto the Lansdowne Road pitch in 2006 where I touch judged the semi-final between Blackrock and Belvedere with Dudley Philips, where Donal Courtney was in the middle. As we left the dressing rooms the pitch was covered in snow and it was snowing heavily. Dudley and I made the wrong decision to wear shorts. It was a super game and Lansdowne was packed with a young Cian Healy and other familiar places lining out. Needless to say I can’t remember who won but I have great memories of the day.



Andrew Cole will referee the Netherlands v Germany in the Rugby Europe Championship on March 18th with Sam Holt and Michael Forrestal assisting. Padraic Reidy and Robbie Jenkinson assisted Keane Davidson for the Romania v Portugal game recently with the great Wayne ‘Mush’ Sheridan as commissioner. Brian MacNeice was recently the TMO for the Scotland v France game at Murrayfield with Nic Berry in the middle. 




We had a great kick off to the year with our mid season seminar facilitated by the IRFU Referee Department. There was also a great discussion with Brian MacNeice on the recent Rugby World Cup. This was swiftly followed by our February area meetings. The session focused on our approach to this important area of the game and highlight the key factors to consider when refereeing the tackler, jackler, ball carrier, and arriving players. Attendances right across the province were extremely high, showing our referees great desire to continuously improve. We’re already looking forward to the March sessions.


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