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Paddy O'Brien Head of 7's referees

About Paddy O'Brien

Paddy O’Brien, ONZM is a New Zealand international rugby union referee, and former head of the International Rugby Board’s Referee Board. He played his rugby as a full back and wing for Southland at Under 18 and B level, as well as Sevens, between 1976 and 1984.

O’Brien began refereeing with the Southland Referees Association in 1984 and combined that with 17 years in the New Zealand Police before turning professional in 1996 with his first game in the Super 12. He took charge of his first Test match on 23 October 1994 with the Rugby World Cup qualifier between Hong Kong and South Korea in Kuala Lumpur. The Koreans won 28-17. He became New Zealand’s most capped Test official on 29 March 2003 when he officiated the Six Nations encounter between France and Wales in Paris for his 27th Test, taking him past Dave Bishop’s record. He has also officiated matches of the British and Irish Lions, including the deciding third test on their 2001 tour to Australia.

In 2005 he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of services to rugby as a referee in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Currently Paddy is head of 7’s referees.


Born: 19 July 1959


  • Rugby World Cup
  • Super Rugby
  • Test Matches
  • Six Nations
  • Lions Tour
  • International 7’s

Paddy O'Brien's courses