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Ireland is no longer at cutting edge in terms of referees development - fault lines in system must be fixed

Bernard Jackman



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Referee Nigel Owens built up a strong relationship with Derek Bevan as his TMO. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Referee Nigel Owens built up a strong relationship with Derek Bevan as his TMO. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Referee Nigel Owens built up a strong relationship with Derek Bevan as his TMO. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It was an hour to kick off and the tension was building in the home dressing room at the RDS ahead of a big Irish derby. My career was coming to an end, but I remember clearly the moment when I first saw a shift in the behaviour of Irish referees towards players.

The match officials came in to check the studs and have a chat with the front-rows. I was no star but had been around Irish rugby since 1995 and this guy had refereed me at All Ireland League with Clontarf and at provincial level for Connacht and Leinster on numerous occasions.


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