Lacey to Retire
After refereeing 37 Test matches, John Lacey of Ireland has decided to retire from refereeing Test matches at the age of 45.
The former Munster player had an excellent career as a player – fullback or wing – and then a top career as a referee.
Born in Tipperary and educated by the Christian Brothers, Lacey had an admirable rugby career in representative rugby, starting with Munster Schools and ending playing for Ireland A and the Irish Sevens team.
In 2007 he decided to become a referee. His career advancement was rapid. Already in 2008, he was refereeing in the All Ireland League and in 2009 in the Heineken Cup. In 2011 he was off to the Junior World Championship in Italy and in 2013 he refereed the final of what is now called the PRO14, and in that year, too, he refereed his first Test, Romania vs Spain, in what is called the Six Nations B. In 2014 he first refereed a Six Nations match, Wales vs Italy, and a Rugby Championship match, South Africa vs Argentina.
In 2015, Lacey was one of the referees at the Rugby World Cup in England. The last match he refereed at the World Cup was the match for third place between South Africa and Argentina.
This year Lacey has again been whizzing about the world with his whistle. His Tests include Scotland vs France in the Six Nations when Scotland surprised the Gauls, Italy vs Fiji, New Zealand vs France in New Zealand and the Rugby Championship match between Australia and Argentina in Gold Coast. On the first day of next month, he is to referee at Twickenham, the match between the Barbarians and Argentina, a wonderful way to end a wonderful career.
Well, not quite ending it as he intends to finish the PRO14 and the European competitions into 2019.
Nor is he finished with refereeing for he is to become the Irish RFU’s high performance referee coaching and talent identification manager, so important as officiating matches becomes more and more high profile in a rugby world of so many big matches with such exposure.
It is not a new experience for him as he has already been helping younger referees into the bigger world of rugby football.
The chairman of World Rugby’s committee for selecting referees, Anthony Buchanan, said: “John has been an outstanding servant of international officiating over a eight-year period, winning 37 caps and many friends along the way as a match official who always gave one hundred per cent to the cause.
“In particular, as a senior member of the international panel in recent years he has played a strong role in mentoring and supporting the younger members of the group and it is these qualities that will be to the fore as he begins and exciting, new chapter in his career. Everyone at World Rugby wishes him well.”