Referees Corner – Issues 13 – Leicester

April 10, 2023 in News

A warm welcome to another issue of Referees Corner. We’re looking forward to a great encounter between Leinster and Leicester. Today’s match referee is Nika Amashukeli from Georgia. This is his second time refereeing Leinster having refereed Leinster v Cell C Sharks in the URC last year. Nika is no stranger to Ireland. In 2013 Georgian Rugby Union started a program aimed at improving the standard of Georgian referees; a new relationship with IRFU has started. This included Irish referees regularly officiating Georgian domestic league matches, Georgian referees officiating All-Ireland League matches and attending IRFU workshops.Nika was among the first young referees recruited through this program in 2013. His first match in Ireland was between Old Christians and St Mary’s in the Munster Junior League.


Amashukeli made his test debut as a referee in the Montenegro v Estonia European Nations Cup Third Division match on 11 April 2015. In 2021 Nika had a successful debut in July internationals, having officiated on Wales v Canada match, first ever Georgian to do tier 1 nations game. Nika’s pathway continued through as he got top level appointments on November internationals, set to officiate in Ireland v Japan, French Barbarians v Tonga and Wales v Australia matches. As of February 2023, Nika Amashukeli is included in World Rugby’s list of candidates to be a referee at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. We wish him well. He is assisted by Pierre Brousset and Tual Trainini of France. The TMO is Eric Gauzins also of France.

The Leinster Schools Junior Challenge Cup final took place onMarch 27 between Blackrock College and St Michael’s College in Eneria Park. Well done to the Leinster Rugby Referees officiating team of Paul O’Connor (Referee), SImon Owens and Jonathon Hollywood (Touch Judges), James Fegan and Keith Spendlove (4th and 5th Official). In a well refereed and tightly contested game a late try by Conall Power secured a 53rd Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Junior Cup title for Blackrock in dramatic fashion. 


Well done to Brian MacNeice who was TMO for Saracens v Ospreys in the Heineken Cup last weekend and Paul Haycock who was AR2 for Stade Francais v Lyon in the Challenge Cup. Paul O’Conor and Colm ROche were on the line for the meeting of Italy U18 and Ireland Schools. We’ve plenty of referees in action over the coming weeks as the All Ireland League, All Ireland U20s and many cup competitions come to a conclusion. 


Have you just finished playing and find yourself wondering how you can stay involved in rugby or planning on retiring at the end of this season? Then perhaps refereeing is the next step for you. Increasingly, more and more players who have decided to hang up the boots are continuing their rugby journey by taking up the whistle.


Why? Refereeing is an excellent way to maintain your fitness level after you retire. You are still getting out on the pitch and enjoying the game from the best seat in the house. Your playing experience will certainly also stand to you in terms of your ability to read the game and in understanding what the players are trying to achieve.


All the provincial associations/societies have members who are former players, and they referee at all levels from age-grade right up to the All Ireland League. Some have even progressed into High Performance and officiate at the highest level. Andrew Brace, Frank Murphy and Joy Neville all enjoyed distinguished playing careers before taking up the whistle. They all referee in the professional game now.


If you are thinking about giving refereeing a try, contact the Referee Development Manager in Leinster Rugby.


Want to get involved? 

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.