Ben O'Keeffe is a world-renowned rugby union referee and ophthalmologist (eye doctor) from New Zealand. He has climbed to the top of the referee ladder and is cited as one of the top referees leading into the Rugby World Cup in France this year. 

O'Keeffe became an official referee in 2013 and has since officiated 43 ITM Cup matches, 75 Super Rugby matches & over 30 test matches and took control of 4 World Cup matches in 2019 and even a British Irish Lions Series in 2021. In this episode of the Rugby Bricks podcast, we chat Rugby World Cup 2023 and how this tournament will have added pressure for the match officials and how Ben deals with media scrutiny, coaches and public pressure.

Ben has skyrocketed to the top of the referring world and it’s a credit to the time he spends learning about the game and admitting his mistakes and finding ways to get better. In this episode, we dive into: 

  • How referees rectify their mistakes and make sure future games aren’t affected by the decisions made.


  • The decision from Ben to issue a red card to Marika Koroibete vs France and understanding the impact it had when it was an incorrect decision. 


  • The amount of pressure referees face from coaches, the public and the media pre and post-games and how they are reviewed by the referring committee.


  • Ben’s challenge of refereeing a game French leading into the World Cup in France and how this has drastically helped his personal and professional development. 

This episode is full of detail and insights, whether you are a player, coach or supporter, you'll learn what it takes to make second-by-second choices when taking the world stage and how decisive you have to be to make some of the hardest decisions a referee can make with the crackdown on player safety and new laws introduced.

Peter Breen