"Fairytale ending" - Wayne Barnes will quit refereeing to concentrate on his other career - Ruck

“Fairytale ending” – Wayne Barnes will quit refereeing to concentrate on his other career

Wayne Barnes of England has been selected as the referee for the Rugby World Cup final, where New Zealand will face South Africa at Stade de France this coming Saturday.

Notably, Barnes, holding the record for the highest number of international referee caps, is set to follow in the footsteps of Ed Morrison, becoming the second Englishman to officiate a Rugby World Cup final since Morrison’s tenure in 1995.

Assisting Barnes on the field will be Karl Dickson and Matthew Carley, while Tom Foley has been designated as the television match official.

A historical first for the Rugby World Cup, all the match officials for this final have been appointed from a single union.

In 2019, Barnes hinted at the possibility of retiring after the World Cup in Japan to spend more quality time with his family and focus on his other commitments.

However, he ultimately decided not hand over his ‘rusty whistle’ and instead extended his career for an additional four years.

This decision has proved wise, as the 44-year-old now stands on the brink of concluding his career with the remarkable opportunity to officiate the sport’s grandest event.

Day jobs of the 2023 Rugby World Cup referee’s:

#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.”