ARCB Claire Toolan Appointment Down Under!


Congratulations to Claire Toolan ARCB for her appointment as AR1- Western Force vs Presidents XV- 24TH June at 2 pm – Coffs Harbour Stadium. You are a credit to yourself, your family and the Association. Well done from all of us at ARCB and we look forward to welcoming you back!

Memories of Danny O’Neill

I would like to share a few thoughts on the late Danny O’Neill who passed away in Athlone, 18th March 2021, after an illness. 

Danny started refereeing in 1992, served a year in the AIL 98/99, and went on to be Association President in 2002/03.

I recall him refereeing Blake 7s (1993), and Creggs vs NUIG (1999),  as well as Touch  judging.  He refereed at least one Junior Cup final in the late 90s. He got injured when he had been appointed to a Schools Senior Cup final. Leg injuries did hamper him thereafter.

He was of particular assistance to me in my first season starting out in 2002, and was U16 coordinator for new members. At an U16 game one day, he told me to stop putting the whistle cord around my neck. “That’s what the GAA do!” He showed me how to wrap the cord around the fingers.  He tutored me on positioning and signalling.

I went to Westport for a U16 match a few weeks later. No teams were there. I rang Danny. “Did you not ring the Home club?” he asked. I had learnt my lesson. He told me he had driven to Clifden from Athlone for a Senior League match a few years earlier – no teams.

Another story he told me: Warren Gatland was playing for Galwegians in the mid 1990s. Danny observed he had illegal boots on, and told him to remove them. He didn’t. Danny: If you come out with those, I will send you off!

Danny was direct, and to the point. He was insistent that his club name was Athlone RFC, and didn’t value the Buccaneers title.

In his year as President, he pushed for new members.  I recall a monthly meeting in McGanns, Monivea, where he wanted to spread them regionally.

In his time on the committee the senior members would have prepared and lead the talks on Law, and match situations. The downstream effect of professionalism has changed the format of meetings, which now involve IRFU Development officers, and Video analysis.

Other people would have found him strong willed, and forthright. I found him principled, genuine and sincere.  He was succinct in his match reviews, and had good Law knowledge.

My sympathies to his family,  wife Catherine, son Dermot, daughter Emma, daughter-in-law Emily, and grandchildren.

Danny served his club, his community, and gave dedicated service to the Referees.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

John Martin,

Secretary,  ARCB

27th March 2021.

IRFU Referee Department Event


Following on from our very successful evening in December 2020, when all 4 Referee Associations/Society came together to learn from Dr Tadgh MacIntrye, the Referee Department are pleased to announce another event this month.

We will be joined by GAA Referee David Gough on Tuesday 26th January at 19.30 – 20.30.

David, a teacher by profession, took up refereeing in 2007. He rose up through the GAA officiating ranks to become one of the most successful GAA referees. He has now refereed the 4 major finals:

·         2013 All-Ireland Under 21 Football Championship Final

·         2015 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Final

·         2017–18 All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Final

·         2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Most recently he has refereed the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Semi Final.

David will talk us through some of his refereeing experiences, as well as many transferable skills we as rugby referees can use such as Preparation, Fitness, Control and Communication. We very much look forward to having all four Referees Associations/Society come together for what should be a very informative and entertaining evening with David.

The link to the meeting will be forwarded through the Secretary.

Mental Skills in Rugby Refereeing


On Tuesday 17th November, 2020 all four Referees Associations joined together for a presentation by Dr. Tadgh MacIntyre on mental skills in rugby refereeing. Dr. MacIntyre talked through a range of mental strategies that might assist referees at all levels. Online attendance on the night was a very impressive 240. Many thanks are due to the IRFU Referee Department for running this major initiative.

NEW Referee Course


Have you got what it takes??

Due to the current Covid 19 restrictions the next course is scheduled for September 2021.  

In the meantime if you are interested in attending or if you have questions about what is involved in being a rugby referee please feel free to contact Peter Fitzgibbon using the details below 👇

Referee Profile

Name: Jason Cairns

Occupation: Dreamer.

Club: Not attached. 

When did you start refereeing and how?
– I started refereeing 7 years ago. 
A mix up on dates  – I wanted to start my coaching badges but ended up attending a new referees course.. O well!!!! 

What has been your favourite referee experience?
– I have been lucky enough to be involved in many good games, but the stand out for me was my first Connacht Senior Schools cup final. 

What do you think is the toughest part of refereeing? 
– Honestly I can say that I don’t find any part tough. I love every aspect of it. 

What is your favourite aspect of refereeing?
– A referee will never get everything correct on the day, but most of the time in rugby it is just taking it on the chin with players & coaches that you have made a mistake. This aspect of the game for me is my favourite – mainly because I make a lot of mistakes. 

If there was one law you would like players and manages to be more aware of what would it be? 
– TJ`s at local level are not able to communicate to the referee. It can be quite funny watching a local game & coaches/players asking the TJ to tell the referee about something they have missed…. Surely the TMO will come in with a knock on in our U18 GAME.. 

What advice would you give to upcoming referees?
– Just have fun. 

What would you not leave home without?
– Well, Dhani Maguire said he always has clean boots… I can confirm that he does not.
I do!!!!!!!
O and Dhani, tuck in that jersey.

Referee Profile

Would you like to get to know our referees better? Our association is made of people from all corners of the province, from all sectors of the working and student world and each have a passion and love for the game. In the lead up to our next NEW REFEREE COURSE on the 12th of January 2020 we want to bring you as many profiles as possible. So first up…meet our current IPAS Candidate:

Name: Dhani McGuire
Age: 32
Occupation: Gym Manager
Club: Ballinasloe

When did you start refereeing and how?
It’s 5 years ago in November I think when Tom Horkan approached me about reffing following an injury that cut short my international playing dreams 😉. Did the affiliate course with Peter Fitzgibbon to start, did my trial with the association of referees Connacht branch and began reffing underage from there.

What has been your favourite referee experience?
Getting to work with the professional referees in the Pro14 and EPCR games as 4th or 5th official. You can always learn what to do in certain situations also what not to do in some instances………

What do you think is the toughest part of refereeing?
Travelling on your own can be the toughest part of refereeing the length of the province/country. A good podcast for the trip helps though.

What is your favourite aspect of refereeing?
The respect most teams show referees is super as you do not get that in too many other sports. Also the hospitality after the game from each club is usually exceptional .Some of the reasons players give you for “bending” aspects of the laws on the pitch can be funny at times.

If there was one law you would like players and manages to be more aware of what would it be?
19.30 (b)
Scrum-halfs are allowed to stay in line with the hindmost part of the scrum on their own side (their no 8s feet) and move anywhere along that line on the pitch once the play in the scrum begins.

What advice would you give to upcoming referees?
Referee what you see, if you didn’t see it you can’t give it!

What would you not leave home without?
Clean boots , Jason Cairns will try tell ye otherwise!!!!

ARCB New Referees Course 2019

The Association of Referees, Connacht Branch, in conjunction with Connacht Rugby and the IRFU recently held two courses for new referees. The course gives participants an insight in to what is involved in becoming a referee with Connacht Rugby, outlines the benefits of being a member of the ARCB and gives an introduction to the key elements of successful refereeing. Over the course of the weekend of the 6th & 7th of September fourteen prospective new referees attended the courses in Claremorris and Galway.

Led by IRFU Referee Development Manager Peter Fitzgibbon, supported by various members of the ARCB, those attending were given an opportunity to learn about the process of qualifying as a referee, player safety and welfare, planning & preparation, communication skills and on-field referee positioning. Technical elements covered on the course include refereeing the scrum and the role of the touch judge.

Thanks to ARCB members Jason Craughwell (President), Paul Cronin, Paul Gannon, Joe O’Donnell, Jason Cairns, John Martin (Secretary), Claire Toolan, Katie Kilbane and Mossy Moran for their contribution to the weekend. Connacht Rugby wishes those that attended the very best in their refereeing careers. For further information on how to become a referee in Connacht go to or contact Referee Development Manager, Peter Fitzgibbon (086-8322987 or