High Performance referees for 2016 announced     09 Dec 2015    

The new members joining the full-time High Performance Referees team include Wellington’s Dr Ben O’Keeffe who is taking a break from his medical profession as an eye doctor, to pursue his refereeing career and former Crusaders halfback Jamie Nutbrown, who graduated from New Zealand Rugby’s referee scholarship programme last year, and enjoyed a highly successful year with the whistle in 2015. Also joining the professional ranks are North Harbour’s Brendon Pickerill and Taranaki’s Paul Williams who will be added to the 2016 Investec Super Rugby roster.

They join the current and wiser whistles of Nick Briant, Mike Fraser and Glen Jackson. Seasoned referee Chris Pollock, who has already announced his retirement from international Test rugby matches, will continue with Super Rugby duties in 2016.

Three referees have been selected to represent New Zealand on the international sevens circuit – Jessica Beard, Richard Kelly and Nick Briant who adds sevens to his skillset.

Beard's skill with the whistle have also seen her appointed to referee two test matches in the Women's Six Nations in February. She will take charge of the Scotland v England on 5 February and France v Ireland on 13 February.

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen congratulated the new High Performance referees.

“Identifying, developing and nurturing talent isn’t exclusive to players. Our team works very hard to promote, identify, recruit and develop refereeing talent.

“Recruitment is an important part of ensuring that New Zealand continues to be represented on the world stage in all aspects of the game – and refereeing is no different.

“To that end we are continuing with our Referee Scholarship which successfully helped Jamie Nutbrown transition into the professional ranks. Former New Zealand Under 20 representative and Hawke’s Bay Magpie, Hugh Reed is the recipient of next year’s scholarship. He’ll sit under our High Performance Referees team, and hopefully, he too will be able to develop his refereeing into the professional ranks.

“With registered refereeing numbers sitting at around 1900 across New Zealand, stories like Hugh’s and Jamie’s demonstrate that players do have a unique opportunity to extend their involvement in the game by taking up the whistle,” Sorensen said.

New Zealand Rugby Referees team 2016:

Professional Referees: Super Rugby, domestic competitions

Nick Briant - Bay of Plenty
Mike Fraser - Wellington
Glen Jackson - Bay of Plenty
Ben O’Keeffe - Wellington
Jamie Nutbrown - Canterbury
Brendon Pickerill - North Harbour
Paul Williams - Taranaki
Chris Pollock - Hawke's Bay

National Squad: Domestic competitions

Kane McBride - Canterbury
Brett Johnson - Bay of Plenty
Angus Mabey - Auckland
Mike Lash - Tasman
Cameron Stone - Taranaki
Liam Scanlon - Canterbury
James Doleman - Auckland
Shane McDermott - Bay of Plenty

Sevens: World Series, domestic competitions

Jessica Beard - Counties Manukau
Richard Kelly - Taranaki
Nick Briant - Bay of Plenty

Referee Scholarship:

Hugh Reed - Hawke's Bay