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The season can be a long one….. but ALWAYS an enjoyable one. Pre-season training in July, matches in early September all the way through to May if you’re going well. Is it worth it???? 100% it is!

I’m in my 17th season as a referee, 3 seasons with the MAR, 14 with the ARLB and 13 as a member of the IRFU National Panel. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many clubs around Ireland, almost all of the current AIL teams with the exception of a few. I’ve made some great friends along the way, not just fellow referees but members of other clubs who will always have a warm welcome when I arrive for a game.

So what’s it like? Training groups with other refs to keep the social side strong, regular meetings to keep up with laws and current game trends and of course matches!!! It starts with local matches at all levels, Leinster league matches can take you to all over the province, AIL that takes you all over the country. Nothing beats a packed house in Donnybrook for the SCT!!! Ok…. maybe the final I did in the RDS in 2016, but Blackrock v Michaels this year was one hell of a buzz!!!!!

I’ve been lucky enough to AR at URC, U20 6 Nations, Rugby Europe, EPCR Challenge Cup and EPCR European cup. Travel can be long but great fun, early mornings to the airport but great craic on the road with fellow refs. This year I’ve been to Belguim, Spain and Italy for rugby, not bad for a hobby!!!!

If you think you want to stay involved in the game there’s nothing stopping you from getting the best seat in the house!

Dermot Blake

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