Lewis to hang up his whistle after long career at top
RESPECTED international referee Alan Lewis has announced his intention to retire from refereeing at the end of this season.
With 45 major international test matches to his credit, including a World Cup quarter-final and games across the Six Nations and the Tri Nations, Lewis is one of the longest serving IRFU International refs.
The Corkman holds the record for games in European competition with an incredible 83 matches, including the Heineken Cup final in 2007. But Lewis said he felt the time was right to call it a day.
"It's a natural progression and one I have been discussing with my family and Owen Doyle in the IRFU over the past few months. I feel very privileged and honoured to have been involved at this level for so long. I have enjoyed every minute hugely," he stated.
Lewis' Limerick colleague George Clancy will ref his first Heineken Cup semi-final when Northampton Saints meet Perpignan in Milton Keynes on May 1.
Clancy will also have the honour of blowing the whistle for the start of the 2011 World Cup when the 34-year-old takes charge of the opening fixture between hosts New Zealand and Tonga
England's Dave Pearson will referee Leinster's Heineken Cup semi-final match against defending champions Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, April 30.
Meanwhile, Danny Cipriani has no intention of quitting Melbourne Rebels at the end of the season.
The Rebels signed Wallabies back Kurtley Beale from the New South Wales Waratahs amid speculation Cipriani might be off back to Europe. Cipriani had a slow start to his career in Australia,but is now displaying the talent and flair that saw him playing test rugby when barely out of his teens.
"I signed a two-year deal and I'm happy with the situation I'm in right now," Cipriani said.
"I'm enjoying my time here, enjoying the season. We're going really well and I'd like to see us keep improving and moving forward."