Fiona Mallen Interview

Refereeing 3 years now, we caught up Fiona Mallen recently.

What made you decide to take up the whistle?

I played womens rugby for about 7 years. In our leagues we found it difficult to secure quality referees for our games. I decided that there is no point complaining about it especially since there were so few female referees. So I decided to give refereeing a go.

What is the biggest thing you have learned since you started out?

I have learned that I am stronger than I think. I was put way out of my comfort zone refereeing. It’s in those moments were you learn a lot about yourself as a person. My skills refereeing have definitely given me confidence and resilience in other areas of my life. Whenever I am in an uncomfortable or stressful situation I tell myself that if I can referee 30 odd burly rugby men for 80 mins then I can do this.

What was the process like to become a referee?

It’s a straight forward enough process. You do a full course day and at then you are put under the guidance of an area rep. I started refereeing underage matches. Once a month there are area workshops about 2 hours long. After about 6 months I got a trial match and passed it to become a Leinster branch referee.

What is your training regime like?

Im in the gym twice a week, I go for a run or sprint work once or twice a week.

What is your favourite thing about refereeing? 

There is a great buzz you get when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and you come off the pitch knowing that you facilitated a great game.

What is the most memorable game you have refereed so far?

I refereed an u18 girls interprovincial match between Leinster and Ulster. I’m not sure it was my finest performance but it was a great occasion and one I was very proud to be part of.

What is your pre – match routine like?

I always like to have my gear ready the night before. The morning of the match I have a good breakfast and focus on hydrating as well as I can. On the drive to the match I try to visualise scenarios from kickoffs and set pieces.

I have a notebook where I have written down key areas of focus on the pitch and the key laws. It contains notes from workshops and also post match notes. If I get something wrong, it gets written in the notebook. I always have a read through that pre game.

What are your refereeing aspirations? 

I would really love to get involved in the international women’s game. That will take a lot of hard work and talent and I might not ever make it. Fortunately I love being pushed out of my depth and given a new challenge. Every match you referee from underage to J1 presents its own challenges. You can never rest on your laurels.

What one law would you like to change or introduce?

I don’t really think about laws like that. My job is to buy into the philosophy behind the law and ensure that its implemented to the best of my ability.

Who is your idol or favourite referee and why?

Joy Neville.  I got to work with her as a Touch Judge in an AIL match this year. Her attitude to refereeing is great. She works hard before, during and at down time to ensure a good game. She certainly does not rest on her incredible achievements. I really buy into that attitude and philosophy when it comes to refereeing.

What will make you improve as a referee?

Every game you have gives you a new challenge/scenario to deal with. Each match helps me improve. Talking things through with other experienced referees is always helpful.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up refereeing?

If you are thinking about it just do it. People worry a lot about the grief referees get. What they don’t see is the satisfaction when particularly a losing player shakes your hand and tells you that you that you facilitated a great game.

Do you any self-analysis after games?

Always. I could replay matches and parts of matches over and over in my head. Particularly if I think I got something wrong. I’m my own worst critic. I always write the scenarios down in my notebook. I always look up relevant laws and often have a chat with other referees to help me make things clear in my own mind.

Leinster Match Program – Article 5

Welcome to another edition of referees corner and a very warm welcome to todays referee Marius Mitrea. Marius is double jobbing this weekend as he will run the line for tomorrow nights game between Ireland and the USA. Marius started refereeing in the National Championship of Excellence in 2009 and made the step up to European rugby during the 2011–12 Pro12 – his first match being Connacht vs Scarlets on 10 September 2011. He also debuted at European level, refereeing during the 2011–12 European Challenge Cup before making the jump up to the Heineken Cup in 2013.

He made his international debut in 2010 before making his Six Nations Championship debut as an assistant referee in 2014 Six Nations Championship. In 2013 he was on the referee panel for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship, where he refereed 3 matches, including the 7th place game between Australia and Ireland. In September 2015, he went to the 2015 Rugby World Cup as an assistant referee.

Continue reading Leinster Match Program – Article 5

List Of IRFU Referee Appointments For November Tests

Continue reading List Of IRFU Referee Appointments For November Tests

Leinster Match Day Program – Article 4

This article featured in the WASPs Champions Cup Program

A very warm welcome to the first Champions Cup home game of the season. Best wishes to Leinster as they embark on a journey to bring back a 5th star. A warm welcome also goes to Romain Poite and his team of officials for today’s game. Romain was the man in the middle for the 2010-11 Cup Final when Leinster came back from a substantial half time deficit to win their second Heineken Cup final. It is great to see Romain back in the RDS, a true gentleman of rugby refereeing.




Another true gentleman of refereeing, a little closer to home, is Sean Gallagher. I refer of course to Sean Gallagher, Navanman and Leinster Referee and not dragon and Presidential hopeful. Sean may have fallen into refereeing in somewhat bizarre circumstances but it quickly became a passion which he has followed all the way to the top. The former secondary school teacher was only made a full-time referee in October 2017 but has been cutting his teeth as a rugby official for a number of years. I was lucky enough to come through the IRFU system beside Sean and then watch him forge ahead. Sean was a fresh-faced (he still is) 15-year-old ready to watch Navan play County Carlow when the referee’s car broke down and he was thrust on to take charge of the Anderson Cup semi-final. I was less fresh faced. Sean currently works as the IRFU Referee Development Officer for Leinster. Thankfully he took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

Continue reading Leinster Match Day Program – Article 4

Interview with Sean Gallagher

If you are going to the European Rugby Champions Cup game between Leinster Rugby and WASPs this evening be sure to pick up a copy of the match program which features an excellent interview with Leinster Rugby Referees and IrishRugby Development Officer Sean Gallagher of Navan Rugby Club.

Stud Legality

While we are waiting for direction / clarity from World Rugby in relation to recent questions please see attached a picture of a pair of boots that were recently identified during a pre match inspection.

For clarity this is an example of a pair of boots that ARE NOT LEGAL and if seen should not be allowed to be worn.

We will be in touch again as soon as we have heard back from World Rugby.

Leinster Match Program – Article 3

This article appeared in the Munster Match Day program.

Welcome to another edition of Referees Corner and to the Aviva Stadium. We extend a warm welcome to today’s officiating team from the Welsh Rugby Union comprised of match referee Ben Whitehouse, assistant referees Mike English and Dan Jones. Michael Carroll from Leinster Rugby Referees is assessing, Simon ‘Nigel’ Owens is on stats and Eddie Wigglesworth is todays match commissioner. Best of luck to all and we hope that you enjoy the unique Leinster v Munster atmosphere.

As mentioned in an earlier edition, Bryan O’Neill of Lansdowne FC was elected president of the Leinster Rugby Referees. Here is what Bryan had to say about his appointment.

“It is a great honour and privilege to the President of the Association of Referees Leinster Branch for the season 2018/19 and also that I am the 100th person to have the honour of being President.

I joined the Association in September 1978 after a 15 year rugby playing career with Lansdowne. I had 14 very enjoyable years with the whistle travelling the length and breadth of the province and also fortunate to referee abroad in England, United States and Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Continue reading Leinster Match Program – Article 3