“Doctor, Barrister...” – The day jobs of the 2023 Rugby World Cup referee’s - Ruck

“Doctor, Barrister…” – The day jobs of the 2023 Rugby World Cup referee’s

A total of 26 Emirates Match Officials (12 referees, seven assistant referees and seven Television Match Officials) representing nine nations with more than 630 test appearances between them, will take charge of the 48 tournament matches. The selection has been made on merit.

In an experienced referee group, Wayne Barnes (England), holder of the most test appearances (102), will officiate in a fifth-straight Rugby World Cup in the country in which he debuted in 2007. Meanwhile, Nika Amashukeli will make history as the first Georgian to officiate at a Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee Joy Neville (Ireland) becomes the first woman to officiate at a men’s Rugby World Cup, taking her place as TMO.

Fellow TMO Ben Whitehouse (Wales) will follow in the footsteps of his father Nigel, who was an assistant referee and TMO at RWC 2003.

Day jobs of the 2023 Six Nations:

#1. Ben O’Keeffe

Age: 34

Nationality: New Zealand

Occupation: Eye Doctor

One of New Zealand’s six full-time referees, O’Keeffe is also a qualified doctor specialising in ophthalmology, which deals with eye health and disease. 

Ben O’Keeffe facts:

O’Keeffe became an amateur referee for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 2013 having started officiating in 2008 at the age of 19

He grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand and attended Marlborough Boys’ College where he was head boy in 2006.

O’Keeffe’s brother, Michael O’Keeffe, represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics in football

Ben O’Keeffe toughest player to referee: Ma’a Nonu

O’Keeffe said: “I think like Ma’a Nonu, yeah he was pretty tough. I’ve noticed over the last few years that players are just a lot bigger, a lot faster and a lot stronger. 

“I trained with the Highlanders pre-season one year and you get a real appreciation of how big, fit and hard they hit. That just remind me why I just I love refereeing – so I don’t have to take those big hits.”