Last weekend, members of the Association of Referees Connacht Branch, Andy Fogarty and John Martin, were the 5th and 6th officials for Ireland v South Africa. This was the first time either of them were part of an officials team for an international test game.

Here’s the story of the day, in John’s own words… 

Last weekend, I had the honour of being the 6th Official for Ireland vs South Africa. Andy Fogarty was also involved as 5th. So, it was a memorable day as it was first caps for us both.

From left: Paul Haycock (4th), Andrea Piardi (AR2), Nika Amashukeli (Referee), Mathieu Raynal (AR1), Andy Fogarty (5th) and John Martin (6th).

My own role mainly involved paperwork, and acting as assistant to Paul Haycock as 4th with the post-match form-filling. Another job, between us 4th,5th & 6th, is to time sin bins, ie 10mins off the stadium clock.

The ‘Tick box’ on the sub card, be it for injury, tactical, blood is also important.

The 5th and 6th official role is really behind the scenes support. We would link with the TV floor manager when replacements come on, for the likes of TV graphics and commentator data.

Read more: Connacht Rugby – Coaching in Canada to refereeing in the AIL: Interview with Connacht referee Andy Fogarty

As the 5th official, Andy also had to operate the digital display for 1st half individual replacements. Meanwhile, I also had Nika’s spare whistle in my pocket, in case there was a malfunction.

Looking back, the experience I got as 5th official in the Sportsground several years back, was a big help here. There I learned, you can’t be a spectator or get emotionally involved. You have to keep your wits about you and stay switched on throughout the game.

Overall, it was a great experience to be involved in what was an extremely competitive international involving the number one ranked team in the world versus the world champions.

If you would like to start refereeing and become a member of the association contact IRFU Referee Development Manager Peter Fitzgibbon by phone on 086 8322987 or by email [email protected]

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