Wellington-born Ben O’Keeffe began refereeing in Otago in 2008 at the University of Otago, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
Before becoming a professional referee, O’Keeffe worked full-time in Wellington in the field of Ophthalmology as an eye surgeon and, where possible, still balances his medical career with refereeing.
One of seven New Zealand high performance referees and regarded at one of the world’s rising officials, O’Keeffe attributes the start of his career to his father’s encouragement to swap the thrill of playing kit for the challenge and experience of refereeing.
He made his international debut in 2016 when he refereed the Test match between Samoa and Georgia and has quickly progressed through the ranks.
Last year proved to be a breakthrough year for O’Keeffe, who was selected to referee the Six Nations match between Wales and France in Cardiff, and was also an assistant referee when Ireland played Scotland in Dublin.
O’Keeffe went on to referee matches in the 2017 Rugby Championship, Investec Super Rugby, Mitre10 Cup, as well as the end of season tour match between England and Australia at Twickenham.
After a stellar year of refereeing, O’Keeffe was named as the New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year at the 2017 ASB Rugby Awards.
The 2018 season will mark another action-packed year for O’Keeffe, including refereeing Six Nations matches in February and March.