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Friday 22 September 2017

Fiona's keeping a close eye on rugby final

Barry Duggan

SHE will be the Irish person keeping the closest eye on tomorrow's Rugby World Cup final.

While Alain Rolland from Dublin is a touch judge for the clash between New Zealand and France, Limerick woman Fiona Craughan will also have a crucial role to play.

Working as the only assistant citing commissioner at the tournament, Fiona (26) will be scrutinising the 80 minutes of action to see if any unsporting or dangerous incidents require further investigation after the game.

Fiona, a qualified referee from Monaleen Park in Limerick, will be in front of a bank of TVs in a secure Sky Sports studio tomorrow in Auckland, where she will take careful note of all aspects of play at Eden Park.

Fiona -- a journalism graduate -- was on work placement in RTE's sports department when she learnt that a vacancy was on offer for an assistant citing commissioner to work at a Sky Sports studio at the World Cup.

She successfully applied and said she had since "enjoyed the experience of a lifetime" in New Zealand.

"I work alongside the citing commissioner at each match," Fiona said.

"Basically, we sit down and watch the game on two TVs in front of us. We take note of everything and decide if there is anything worth investigating after the game.

"I make note of what time incidents happen and we can ask for footage from all cameras across the stadium at both half-time and full-time," she added.

The former barmaid has worked at every game apart from Ireland's historic victory over Australia. "I was given the day off and a ticket for that one... it was truly amazing.

"My job is all about making the game safer for everyone. Rugby is a tough, tough sport, so it is about protection for all," she added.

"It was my dad Louis who got me into rugby so I have him to thank for all this. I'm not too sure what I'll do after tomorrow, but I'd love to get more involved with the IRB (International Rugby Board) so we'll see what happens."

Also heavily involved in tomorrow's game is Alain Rolland (45) from Dublin, who will be touch judge.

The Dublin man is also the back-up referee for tomorrow should South African whistle-blower Craig Joubart be forced to retire.

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