Rugby: Talented referee O'Brien to make Super 15 debut

Just over a decade ago, Matt O'Brien was wearing a light blue jersey, running around the club fields of Dunedin.

Tonight he will referee his first game of Super 15 rugby, when the Chiefs play the Rebels in Hamilton.

O'Brien (30) is the son of former international referee and IRB referee boss Paddy O'Brien.

Matt O'Brien was educated in Southland and then came north to Dunedin to study at the University of Otago. While at university he played rugby and made it to the University A side, playing on the wing in the early 2000s.

He graduated from university with a pharmacy degree and moved to the Gold Coast for career prospects and to do some travelling. He played for the Gold Coast Breakers club but eventually retired and, despite having vowed never to do so, picked up the whistle and began to referee.

His flight up the refereeing ranks has been swift.

He progressed through the Queensland referee system and in 2011 was selected to referee on the World Sevens circuit.

In 2012 he was awarded an Australian Sports Commission national officiating scholarship. He continues to be involved in the sevens circuit and has officiated in a couple of finals at the sevens tournament. He still works as a pharmacist on the Gold Coast, and is classified under Sanzar as an Australian referee.

Last year, O'Brien was named in the Super 15 refereeing squad, which has copped a bit of flak this season with botched calls and mismanagement of games.

Otago captain and No8 Paul Grant has signed with English club side Nottingham for next season.

Grant, who is at present playing for high-flying French club Montpellier, has joined the club for next season.

He originally went to Montpellier as injury cover and has made a good fist of his stint, getting game time in a side stacked with quality players. Montpellier is top of the French Top 14 competition.

Moving to Nottingham, Grant (26) will link up with his former University A and Otago team-mate Sean Romans.

Romans has just signed a new contract with the Nottingham side he joined in 2011.

Nottingham plays in the Championship, the second tier of English rugby, and sits near the bottom of the table.

Add a Comment