Changes Are Going To Come .

Applying new law changes and looking forward to an exciting stint officiating in the Six National championship is on the horizon for New Zealand and one of the world’s top rugby referees Ben O’Keeffe.

Ben O'Keeffe

While he’s been enjoying some down time relaxing in his old home town of Blenheim, he’ll soon be Europe bound to officiate in the Six Nations Championship including refereeing the England v France clash.

Like everyone involved in rugby, Ben wants to see the ball in play for more minutes during matches and less stoppages over-all and he’s confident the new changes will help in that regard.

Referees and players both will looking to impress with the Rugby World Cup in mind.

Among the law changes, which Ben explains in our interview, players can be put on report if the refs can’t immediately decide between and yellow and red card therefore lessening the time waiting for a TMO to confirm or otherwise.

No Doubt On This .... Coaches must also take responsibility on poor tackle technique.

Shots at goal both penalties and conversions will be on a strict stop clock and once the time is up, the kicking opportunity is over. There is also another law change being trialled in New Zealand community rugby this year where the tackle height is being lowered to try and lessen head injuries.

The tackle height is being lowered to try and lessen head injuries.

Like the players, referees go through rigorous testing and training preparing for rugby seasons including regular law exams, role playing scenarios and fitness tests.

Ben established himself as one of the World’s top referees at the previous World Cup in Japan where he officiated in all the knockout rounds including being an assistant ref in the final between the Springboks and England.

While he’s a virtual certainty to be one of the refs involved in this year’s World Cup in France, he won’t know for a few months yet as everyone’s performances are evaluated and the top group are chosen.

Like all of us Kiwis, Ben thoroughly enjoyed the women’s rugby World Cup and was full of praise for the way that tournament was refereed, commenting that you hardly heard anything about the refs which he said is how you want it. 

He was particularly impressed with Scotland ref Hollie Davidson’s performance in that thrilling grand final between the Black Ferns and England and said she got some very crucial decisions absolutely correct.

Both the men and women’s top referees liaise together sharing information and expertise and developing more top class women’s refs is an obvious focus for world rugby.

Rugby is most definitely not Ben’s only career focus. He is a doctor, an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) and is a director and founder of  oDocs Eye Care, their main mission to end preventable blindness on a global scale.

It was established in 2014 by Ben O’Keeffe and Dr Hong Sheng Chiong and is an innovative and award winning medical technology social enterprise, their aim to save the vision of one million people by 2030.

Dr Ben O’Keeffe at work..

Listen to my (John Alexander) interview below with Ben O’Keeffe, speaking from New Zealand earlier this week.

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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