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You are here: Home » To the 1994-2005 International Referee Paddy O'Brien
This Ten Questions idea is to ask a leading rugby personality; be he or she a player or referee, someone from the the media or an administrator some questions which may prompt a response from them which we might not have heard of before;
Paddy O'Brien (or to be factually correct Patric Denis O'Brien) was a rugby fullback and winger in his playing days and a sprinter in summer athletics. He was also a policeman in his hometown of Invercargill in the southern most province of New Zealand. But Paddy's life was headed towards change when he made the decision to take up refereeing. His sound judgements and speed about the field had him earmarked as a referee of promise from his start in 1984. By 1992 he controlled New Zealand Universities v England 'B' in Wellington, his first step above New Zealand rep fixtures. In the following year, 1993, he controlled the British Lions v Hawkes Bay match and in 1994 he controlled the Springboks v Wellington. These were signals to Paddy that he had a career in refereeing which was going to perhaps prove more challenging than to that of being a police detective. He resigned from the Force and took up professional refereeing in 1996. He was only 36 years of age. His first international appointment had come in 1994 When he did Korea v Hong Kong in Kuala Lumpur.
With the advent of full professional rugby Paddy became a regular touring referee. In 1997 he did England v Scotland at Twickenham and thereafter was a consistent appointee until 2005. He attended two Rugby World Cups, in 1999 and 2003 and in the end became New Zealand's record test referee, controlling 37 test matches.
After his retirement in 2005 he accepted the appointment From the IRB to become their Head of Refereeing Officials. This proved a turbulent time for Paddy and many times he was centre of the world's media and its questioning of rugby laws, decisions and refereeing staff. He was in that position until 2012. After his resignation he took up a further position for the IRB controlling the referees on the World Sevens circuit.
Paddy lived for a time in Dublin but is back in his beloved Invercargill from where he nonchalantly commutes many thousands of annual miles to international events all over the world.
1) Who were your heroes in sport when you were growing up?
I was crazy about all sports; I loved all the All Black teams in the 70s and 80s. Then there was NZ's Commonwealth Games Gold medal winning 10,000 metre runner Dick Tayler, and the NZ rowers and the Gold Medal winning Hockey team. I also think of the great John Walker. The 70s and 80s were fantastic as I used to listen to the fantastic achievements unfold on the radio and then in my mind then I had to picture the experience. It was all great fun.
2) Not counting where you live now; is there a favourite other place on earth you would like to live in?
This may surprise some people but I love Samoa. I love the way the people there are so relaxed and their way of life is about family and friendship and not material goods.
3) Is there a trait in your personality that you do not like? My impatience to idiots.
4) What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty and people who only have the guts to knife you from behind.
5) Do you have a great fear or superstition of anything? I just hate enclosed spaces and I cannot stand being near tall story balconies.
6) In all your life what do you consider your greatest and most proud achievement? Being the father to my 4 wonderful children.
7) What is your most treasured possession? I have my late Mums' rosary beads and I also have her St Christopher medal. Those two things go with me everywhere on my travels. Somehow I feel Mum is looking after me if I have them in my possession.
8) What is your idea of perfect happiness? One thing I really like is just sitting around with my family and just watching them be themselves - and reflecting how lucky we are to live in the great country of New Zealand.
9) What is something that you feel you haven't yet achieved in your life? Travelling around the North Island of New Zealand with my wife Carolyn. We have been to many parts of the world yet have never taken the time to really discover some parts of our own country.
10) What has been a kind of 'motto' that has got you through life - to where you are today? Well, I often think 'I am no better than anyone else on this earth - but on the other hand there is no one on this earth better than me.'
The great All Black Colin Meads was sent off v Scotland at Murrayfield. Did he deserve to go? All NZ says 'no!' But the ref had the final say.
Lansdowne and Ireland
51 internationals for Ireland 1974–84
1 international for the British Isles 1977
A dedicated player who became only the third forward from Ireland to reach 50 international appearances. Keane was never a great lineout leaper or scrummager or runner in the open. Rather he played the game in the dark depths of rucks and mauls, where he was as good a grafter as the game has seen. For heart and pride, and the desire to do his utmost for Ireland, he could not be bettered.
Maurice Ignatius Keane first played for Ireland in 1974 in a 6–9 loss to France, but wins in two other matches that season gave Ireland the Five Nations title. In Keane’s fourth international season for Ireland, he made the British Isles team to tour New Zealand, after one of the team’s originals, Geoff Wheel, had to withdraw on medical advice.
Keane was in the Irish team that won the Five Nations championship in 1982 and in the one that shared the title with France in 1983. The other years of his international career were lean: in 52 internationals Keane was only in the winning team 17 times.
Keane had a delightful personality and a wicked sense of humour and many stories, true, exaggerated or otherwise, are still told about him.
In the 1978 New Zealand v Ireland match at Dublin, the Irish were being well beaten in the lineouts, where Keane was marking the All Black giant Andy Haden. The only chance Ireland had to win lineout ball was with their complicated lineout calls, which none of the New Zealanders could decipher. The All Blacks were helped on one occasion when the lineout call went out from the Irish halfback and they heard Keane cry, ‘Oh God no, not to me again’!
Moss Keane was the first Gaelic footballer to play rugby union for Ireland after eligibility rules were changed. He remained an enormously popular figure in Ireland after his retirement from playing.
What made Namibia's Rudi van Vuuren unique in Rugby World Cup history?