Paddy O'Brien

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes and on the field in International Rugby ? Paddy is the current iRB High Performance Sevens Referee Manager

Paddy O'Brien was one of the best Rugby referees in the World. In his presentations, he talks about the funny things that happen on the field between referees and players, that the public never see or hear.

He is New Zealand's most successful International rugby referee having refereed 38 Internationals and 218 First Class games. He will entertain you with both serious and humorous stories from his refereeing past plus give you an insight into his role where he is constantly under the spotlight when managing the Worlds top referees. 

Paddy announced his retirement from international refereeing at the end of the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand and in August 2005 was appointed Referee Manager by the IRB (International Rugby Board) managing the administration of the elite panel of referees and responsible for the match officials at all major IRB events including the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Later that year he was awarded an ONZM for his services to rugby refereeing

He was named New Zealand Rugby Union referee of the year 6 times, 1995, 96, 98, 2002  2003 and 2004.

His first taste of test rugby was in 1995, Australia against Ireland in Brisbane and O'Brien was a test touch judge for the first time. He took charge of his first Test on October 23, 1994, with the Rugby World Cup qualifier between Hong Kong and South Korea in Kuala Lumpur, a match the Koreans won 28-17. 

In his biography, "Whistle While You Work" (2003) Paddy lifted the lid on some of rugby's best stories. How he fought back from the low point of the 1999 World Cup match to the success of refereeing England Vs France in the World Cup semi-final in 2003 is both intriguing and inspirational.

In 2005 he became the IRB Referee Manager where he presided over two Rugby World Cups. 2007 in France, won by South Africa and 2011 in New Zealand, won by New Zealand.

After two world cups managing the High-Performance 15s referees, Paddy decided to go down the Sevens route and accepted the role as High-Performance Sevens Referee Manager when Sevens was readmitted to the Olympics. This means he now tours the world looking after the Referees on the Men’s and Women’s Sevens Series and is tasked with ensuring the referees selected for Rio and future Olympics keep pace with the ever-changing world of Sevens.

Paddy can give a motivational talk with the main theme being "controlling the controllables" to a humorous account of his life as a world-class referee and now administrator, at the highest level in two forms of Rugby.

And who knew that Paddy would also be one of New Zealand's top MC's. He brings, professionalism, style and humour to any event and of course, can top it off with his trademark after-dinner presentation.