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Proud Irish mammy cheers on her referee son

WHILE most of the world was shouting for the All Blacks or Tonga at the opening World Cup clash, Irish mother Helen Clancy was cheering on her referee son.

Helen was the proudest mum in Ireland yesterday when her son togged out in the white and blue strip to referee the opening World Cup clash.

George Clancy was given the honour of marshalling the opening match, straight after the spectacular opening ceremony had taken place.

The 34-year-old has had a meteoric rise through the ranks in the elite international refereeing world.

The civil servant, who lives in Co Limerick with his wife Evelyn, is one of just 10 referees picked from around the world to preside at the World Cup.

Helen said she was very excited when she saw her son jogging out on to the pitch to referee the match that was being watched by an audience of millions across the world.

"He got the phone call about two months ago to tell him he was going to the World Cup," she said.

"That was fantastic and then he was asked if he would do the opening game. He was at a hurling match in Bruff that day."

Helen, who watched the match at Clancy's pub in Bruff, with George's cousin Alona Troy and sister Katie Clancy, said the former fly-half took an interest in refereeing after sports injuries had prevented him from pursuing his passion for rugby.

"His dad Saoirse was very involved with Bruff Rugby Club and he was always mad into rugby. George went to the rugby school, St Munchin's in Limerick city, as well.

"But he suffered a few injuries and broke his leg, so he decided to start refereeing. His dad suggested it to him. George started off with small games."

Helen said her son had always been very cool-headed but admitted that she didn't know if he would make it to the semi-finals or the final in New Zealand.

She added: "After the first round, five of the referees will be sent home. He doesn't know yet what will happen.

"He will be there for six weeks and then he will see what happens after that."

Irish Independent