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Special award for top referee

22 June 2005

Special award for top referee

Sport and Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard presented international rugby referee Paddy O'Brien with a special award for his contribution to sports officiating today.

"Paddy is retiring at the top of his game after more than 20 years of refereeing. He has made a huge contribution to rugby refereeing in New Zealand and throughout the world," Trevor Mallard said.

"He was one of New Zealand's first professional rugby referees and is the most capped with 37 tests to his name. As one of our most recognisable faces in sports officiating, rugby just won't be the same without him.

"Paddy has been recognised by his sport - winning the New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year award six times. In recognition of his contribution to officiating in general, I am pleased to present a special award to Paddy to acknowledge his achievements."

Trevor Mallard presented the award to Paddy at the launch of the Sport Canterbury Regional Officials Network, in Christchurch today.

Trevor Mallard also announced the expansion of the Prime Minister's Scholarship programme to include sports officials. New Zealand's top referees, umpires and judges will be eligible to apply for the scholarships valued up to $10,000 a year.

"This type of recognition for our top sports officials is well overdue. We have some very talented and highly rated international sports officials in New Zealand, such as Paddy O'Brien, and they deserve to be recognised and supported," Trevor Mallard said.

Paddy's achievements have already been acknowledged twice this year. He received the Officers Award of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday Honours and was recently appointed as referee manager at the International Rugby Board.

ENDS

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