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NZRU farewells Steve Walsh

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allblacks.com     28 Apr 2009     Getty Images

As a result of an enquiry into an employment problem arising from a referee meeting in Sydney both Steve and the NZRU have reached this outcome.

Walsh, who refereed his first test match in June 1998, is currently New Zealand’s most experienced international referee. He has extensive experience at domestic, Rebel Sport Super 14 and international level, having refereed in both Six Nations and Tri Nations Test matches. He was appointed to the last two Rugby World Cup tournaments, and controlled the second semi-final match in 2007.

Walsh said, “I have enjoyed my time in refereeing immensely; however there is a significant commitment involving a lot of travel and time away from home which I found increasingly difficult dealing with. I may at some stage in the future want to return to refereeing at the top level and if I choose to do that I know what is required – but right now I have a different focus.”

NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen today paid tribute to Walsh for his decision to step down from refereeing, and for his record as a top professional referee.

“Steve has been an outstanding referee and has officiated some of the biggest matches in world rugby, demonstrating his talent and representing New Zealand on the international stage. At his best, he was a truly world-class referee.”

Walsh made his National Referee Squad debut in 1996 and in total refereed 212 first class games, including 35 Test matches.

He made his Test refereeing debut at 26, officiating a France-Argentina match in Buenos Aires in 1998, and other career highlights include whistling the Rugby World Cup 2007 semi-final between South Africa and Argentina, refereeing in the Six Nations and taking charge of the 2007 Rebel Sport Super 14 Final in Durban.