Ben O’Keeffe caught up with the team at ACME Whistles ahead of this weekend’s quarter final - Ruck

Ben O’Keeffe caught up with the team at ACME Whistles ahead of this weekend’s quarter final

With the excitement and action continuing into the quarter finals this weekend, we managed to catch up with international referee Ben O’Keeffe as he prepares for the Clash between France and South Africa.

With the clash of northern and southern hemisphere titans around the corner, we quizzed Ben on the tournament so far, and looking forward to the game ahead.

What’s been the biggest highlight from the World Cup so far?

So for me it is definitely getting involved in the Ireland v South Africa game at the Stade De France.

It was just an electric atmosphere and some amazing rugby from both teams. To be in the middle of that and the action to go all the way until the 80th minute was just pretty special.

Then with the fans, both South African and Irish, singing at the end was an awesome highlight for me so far.

Has it lived up to my expectations?

It definitely has. I knew this was going to be the biggest and best World Cup that we’ve ever had – and it has certainly lived up to that.

With the expectation that the quarters, semis and finals are going to take this to another level as well – I can’t wait.

I think everything around the World Cup being in France; the public getting involved and supporting rugby; going to smaller regions where they love their rugby as well – it has definitely lived up to expectations. It’s been fantastic.

When and how did you find out about your quarter final appointment?

I found out about my quarter final appointment on the Monday when it was announced. I was asked what team would like to have with me and I was in no doubt that I wanted to have the full New Zealand contingent.

We’ve been working together for probably good 8 years now as referees and ARs in Super Rugby in New Zealand, and I think going into something like quarter final as big as South Africa v France game it’s good to have people that have been in this environment before, people I know that will support me and do the best for the game.

You have an all NZ officiating team on Sunday, does that help with preparation?

It definitely helps my preparation. I’ve already worked with them for the Japan v Argentina game the week before. I’ve basically been working with him for the last few years that helps the understanding of our philosophies, how we referee, and how we go about a game.

So there is a lot of stuff that’s already been said and done that will allow to get down into the nitty gritty detail about this specific game coming up on Sunday. That’s one of the benefits of having an all Kiwi crew for this match.

Is it particularly special refereeing the host nation?

It is very special refereeing the host nation. I was able to do it in Japan when I refereed Japan v Scotland, and then at the start of this tournament with France v Uruguay.

It’s special because there’s a different atmosphere, a different vibe, a different buzz. When you have the national anthem of the home nation sung by all the supporters as well.

I think this weekend with the Stade de France full of supporters, both French and South African, it’s going to be very very special.

For those inspired to pick up the whistle and join the network of referees, visit