This article appeared in the Connacht Matchday Program
What another superb year for Leinster Rugby Referees. It is great to get the Christmas and New Year celebrations over and done with for another year and get back into some refereeing, although some of our referees have been in action over the festive period. We’re almost half way through our 2017/18 season and already a number of new referees have passed their trials and embarked on a new refereeing career.
Our organization is continually growing learning and improving and we look forward to 2018, and delivering more top quality referees and assessors to Leinster and the world.
None of this growth and improvement would be possible without the hard work and leadership of our executive committee, the management and sub-committees especially President Conor Byrne, and Vice Presidents Bryan O’Neill and Norman Carter with others such as Mark Power, Simon Owens, Denis Collins and of course the area representatives – Graeme Douglas, Brendan Conroy, John Dunne, Simon Porter and Thomas Keating with Tom Colton amongst others.
One of the first things most referees look forward to after the Christmas period is the Leinster Schools Senior and Junior Challenge Cups. The draw which took place in December kicks this off, but it is the selection of referees that is greatly anticipated. Refereeing a schools cup game, be it in Donnybrook, the RDS, or any other club in Leinster is one of the highlights or any referees career. It is such a fantastic competition, steeped in history and always an emotional occasion for all involved. This year the final was refereed superbly by Paul Haycock. Paul is a member of the IRFU National Panel for over 8 years and has represented the Leinster Rugby Referees and his club Terenure College RFC both at home and abroad. Paul was assisted by Barry O’Keeffe and David Williams, Barry Armstrong and Jonathon Geoghegan , John Carvill was in the TMO box . For the Junior Cup final Brian MacNeice was in the middle for an enthralling fixture played in difficult conditions.
This year saw a continued rise in attendances at area meetings, thanks to the hard work of the area representatives. We had some great presentations including one from Wayne Sheridan on life as a match commissioner.
We regard our Annual Dinner as one of the main highlights of our year. It is a celebration of the season that, was highly successful for the ARLB. That success is entirely due to our referees efforts, both on and off the pitch. The Dinner is also where we get to meet up with the other members of OUR club and renew friendships that are otherwise not easy to maintain. We will also honour 3 deserving members of our Association with Awards.
This year, the Dinner took place on Saturday April 1st, in Lansdowne FC, just a few hours after we watched Leinster play Wasps in the Quarter Final of the ERCC. Amongst others, we were joined by the President of the IRFU, former International Referee Stephen Hilditch, who is also an excellent speaker. “Legendary” rugby player Ross O’Carroll Kelly replied to the toast on behalf of the guests,
of the Ulster Society for Rugby Football Referees.
On the night our much anticipated annual awards are handed out. There are four main awards, one for lifetime achievement, one for referee of the year, another for refereeing performance of the year and one for club of the year. The lifetime achievement award is named after Ham Lambert who passed away a few years ago. Ham was an Irish cricketer, rugby union player and later international rugby referee. By profession a veterinary surgeon, he was noted for being the first in Ireland to own a practice devoted to the care of companion animals. This year’s winner was Norman Camier of Terenure College RFC. Norman, a former referee, assessor and President of the Leinster Rugby Referees, has devoted a number of years to the association. Norman follows a long line of winners including Brendan Jenkinson,Tom Aplin, Des McCabe, Des Flanagan, Declan McIllraith, Ned Cummins, David Bell and Brendan Lynch to name a few.
The award for referee of the year is named after Harold ‘Harry’ Ardill. Harry was instrumental in developing, recruiting and educating referees within Leinster. The referee of the year award accounts for both on field and off field efforts and contribution to the association. This year’s winner was Clive Wardrop from Portarlington RFC. He is the first referee from the Midlands to win the award and has been a referee for 16 years. He has officiated at all forms of the domestic game up to and including Pro12. Clive follows a long line of winners including Brendan Conroy, Gary Conway, Barry Armstrong, Dan Wallace, David Bolger, Brendan McGovern, Tony Duncan and Stephen Kennedy.
The Club of the Year award is named after Terry Doyle, former President of the association. The award was named after Terry in 2011 and the first recipients were Edenderry RFC. This year’s recipients of the Terry Doyle Memorial Award were Greystones RFC. In a tightly fought contest they came out above UCD (2), and Lansdowne (3). Other winners of this award include Terenure College, Lansdowne, Ashbourne, Skerries, Edenderry, Malahide and UCD. Greystones have been there or there abouts in voting for the last number of seasons and have put a huge club effort into regenerating the club and its facilities and thoroughly deserve their win.
The final award that is handed out is the Alain Rolland Referee Performance of the Year which was won last year by Dermot Blake. This year’s winner was Susan Carty whowas presented with the trophy by World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland . Susan puts in a huge amount of time for the referees and is regularly seen touch judging many games as well as refereeing all manners of games from youths and underage to senior. She is thoroughly deserving of this award.
The new season kicked off with our annual seminar on August 20th in Old Wesley RFC. 160 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.
Conor Byrne, President of the Leinster Rugby Referees, opened proceedings, welcoming the referees to another season and wishing them well. We were delighted to welcome David O’Brien to our meeting who conducted the pre-Season presentation and the key points and focus areas for referees this season. We also had some excellent presentations from Paul Haycock, and Kevin Beggs, who took a break from the TMO booth at the Womens Rugby World Cup.
The new season kicked off on the golf course rather than the rugby pitch. On August 31st we held the combined Leinster Rugby / Leinster Rugby Referees golf outing in Milltown Golf Club. A cracking day was had by all, and the weather played its part too with a beautiful sunny day. We had 21 members and 4 guests playing in Milltown GC.
The Brindley Cup was won by Brendan Lynch with 38 points and followed closely by Mark Gargan (37 points), Peter Donnelly (33) and Bryan O’Neill (31). It is not Brendan’s first time lifting the trophy and he played some magnificent golf. David Bolger with 34 points won the Jim Dolan Memorial Plate for the best placed active member of the ARLB. Our appreciation is due to Simon ‘Nigel’ Owens who arranged the outing in conjunction with the Leinster Branch’s own competition. Conor Byrne in his presidential speech thanked all for attending and appealed to other members to support the event in the future.
So a pretty busy year as we continue to build on our reputation as one of the finest Referee Associations in the World both on and off the pitch. Have you got what it takes? The Leinster Referees always need more referees and opting to become one may be the best decision you’ve made for a long time. We are running a new referees course in January, details at www.arlb.ie. Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at email@example.com or contact by phone Denis Collins at 01-2235107 or David O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook and Google + pages, our website www.arlb.ie or through twitter @leinsterreferee