Ben O'Keeffe (born 3 January 1989) is a rugby union referee from New Zealand. He currently referees at domestic, Super Rugby and test match level.

Ben O'Keeffe
Ben O'Keeffe.jpg
O'Keeffe carding a player in the 2017 Super Rugby season
Birth nameBen O'Keeffe
Date of birth (1989-01-03) 3 January 1989 (age 31)
Place of birthAuckland, NZ
Rugby union career
Refereeing career
Years Competition Apps
2013–
2014
2015–
2016–
2019–
ITM Cup
Junior World Championship
Super Rugby
Test Matches
Rugby World Cup
43
4
48
20
4
Correct as of October 2019

O'Keeffe became a professional referee for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 2013 having started officiating in 2008 at the age of 19.[1] On 31 August 2013, he made his domestic debut during the 2013 ITM Cup match between Auckland and Bay of Plenty. On 24 October 2015, he officiated the 2015 ITM Cup Final between Canterbury and Auckland.

In 2014, he started to appear at Super Rugby level as an assistant referee, before going on to be selected by World Rugby for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship.[2] He made four appearances as the main official, one of which was the final between England and South Africa.

He continued to referee at domestic level that year, before being selected for the 2015 Super Rugby season on 27 January 2015.[3] He made his debut during the second round of the tournament, taking charge of the Highlanders vs Crusaders clash on 21 February as a late call up for injured referee Chris Pollock.[4] He was the man in the middle for the Sunwolves Super Rugby debut on 27 February 2016. He was also one of the referees to officiate the 2016 Super Rugby Final between the Hurricanes and Lions.

InternationalEdit

On 18 July 2015 he made his international debut as an assistant referee, officiating in the first match of the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, Fiji vs Tonga.

In 2016, O'Keeffe made his Six Nations Championship debut on 7 February as assistant referee in the match Ireland vs Wales and then Italy vs England the following weekend.[5]

On 11 June 2016, O'Keeffe made his international refereeing debut, taking charge of the historic match between Samoa and Georgia which ended in a 19 all draw. The following week he officiated his first Tier 1 nation, refereeing Scotland's first test against Japan on 18 June. He was appointed to his first Rugby Championship match in August 2016, assistant referee when South Africa hosted Argentina.

On 19 November 2016, he refereed his first Tier 1 v Tier 1 match, taking charge of Scotland's narrow win over Argentina in Edinburgh and now regularly referees both Six Nations and Rugby Championship tournaments.

He was selected as the youngest referee at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and went on to referee three pool play games as well as assistant referee in the knock out stages.[6] He was widely praised for his handling in the final pool match of the tournament; the historic 28-21 win by host nations Japan over Scotland.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

O'Keeffe grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand and attended Marlborough Boys' College where he was head boy in 2006. He then studied a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Otago University, graduating in 2012.[8]

He practices as a doctor in ophthalmology and is the co-founder of the social enterprise oDocs Eye Care, which aims at creating medical technology to prevent blindness.[9]

O'Keeffe's brother, Michael O'Keeffe, represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics in football.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "O'Keefe reaps reward for career choice".
  2. ^ "Jackson, Fraser, Pollock, Briant and O'Keefe in IRB referee selections".
  3. ^ "Super Rugby referees announced, call up for Kiwi Ben O'Keeffe". Stuff.
  4. ^ "O'Keeffe to make referee debut as late call-up - Sanzar". super.rugby.
  5. ^ "World Rugby Officiating : The home of Rugby officiating on the web". officiating.worldrugby.org.
  6. ^ rugbybworldcup.com. "Match officials selected for RWC 2019: introducing Team 21". www.worldrugby.org. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  7. ^ "A rare pat on the back for a World Cup referee". The Roar. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  8. ^ "It's a big night for former MBC head boy". Stuff.
  9. ^ "About". 12 April 2016.