Ben O'Keeffe Interview     04 Sep 2013    

br />How did you get to where you are today as a ref?

I started refereeing after getting into Med school in Dunedin. I would referee each week and fortunately progressed up the ranks to referee senior and representative rugby in Otago and the South Island. I have been in Wellington for the last 2 years and have been promoted to referee more senior and representative matches in the Heartland Championship and am now in my first season of ITM Cup.

Why refereeing – and in that case,  why referee rugby?

My father had been a good provincial referee in his time and went up the ranks quickly, however one regret he had was that he didn’t start young enough. I took this on board and decided when I was in my 2nd year at university to take up the whistle instead of playing.

What does your training programme look like?

Believe it or not it’s pretty intense. The games are getting faster and you have to train well and cover all aspects like recovery and nutrition if you want to be at your best. In my case I am 7 months post knee operation for an ACL injury so a lot of my time is rehabilitation. It still remains gym work each night, a field based session during the week, physiotherapy, a game each Saturday  and lots of whistle blowing!

Where do you want to get to as a referee?

I want to be the best referee in the world and referee at future international and world cup tournaments. It excites me to think of the possibilities refereeing has to offer. To stay involved, travel, meet new people are all the things which make me passionate about refereeing.

What has been the high point of your refereeing career to date?

Each week is a high point for me and I have been lucky enough to be involved in ITM Cup, Investec Super Rugby and international rugby games which is exciting. My high point is probably refereeing Dunedin’s club final and then Assistant refereeing an Otago game on the last day  Carisbrook was used. Beautiful day,
large crowds, great games and lots of history to celebrate.

What do you do when you’re not training or refereeing?

I am a doctor doing a run in plastic surgery at Hutt Hospital in Wellington.  It offers an exciting balance in my  life and I find both complement  each other really well in terms of  making decisions and communicating with people.