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Rory O'Keeffe appointed Head of Referees

The Irish Tag Rugby Association (ITRA) is delighted to announce that Rory O'Keeffe has been appointed Head of Referees. Rory takes over from Ultan Ryan, who coordinated ITRA referees for the guts of 20 years before retiring after the 2023 ITF Tag World Cup.

Rory, a long-time tag player, began his refereeing career with ITRA in 2020 and has over 500 games under his belt in that time. He is also a highly-ranked Leinster Rugby referee, taking charge of games across the province.

He was selected to officiate at the 2023 ITF Tag World Cup, as part of a panel of 36 referees from Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Head of Referees role involves overseeing the development of ITRA referees, with a focus on training, up-skilling, and progression through grades. In this role he will work closely with ITRA's Operations Manager Charles Davis, who is responsible for referee scheduling and recruitment.

"Rory has an excellent temperament, a sharp understanding of tag laws, and loves the game. He is the ideal candidate to support the development of ITRA referees going forward," said ITRA General Manager Jack Leahy.

"Among the playing population, Rory has a great reputation. You always come off the pitch feeling like the game has been fair, that calls have been consistent, and that the decisions that went against you were probably right.

"Referees will really enjoy working with him, learning from him, and picking his brilliant refereeing brain."

Ultan Ryan

Ultan Ryan's retirement from the role was confirmed in August 2023, following his highly successful direction of the referee programme at the 2023 ITF Tag World Cup in Limerick.

Ultan's variously titled roles with ITRA have involved referee direction, coordination, scheduling, upskilling, and much more over the span of nearly 20 years. Everyone at ITRA is hugely grateful to him for his many years of hard work. Practically every referee who has worked with us over the years has benefited from his advice and knowledge.

Ultan has been a major figure in the development of tag laws globally since the foundation of the International Tag Federation (ITF), and was essential in developing Irish referees to the standard expected by other international tag participants.

Decades of services culminated with the 2023 ITF Tag World Cup in Limerick, where refereeing performances were praised by teams for their consistency, harmony, and quality.

ITRA is grateful to Ultan for his many years of hard work and insight.

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