I'm a Rugby World Cup 2023 referee but I'm also an eye doctor – nobody can question my sight | The Sun
11th October 2023

RUGBY WORLD CUP referee Ben O'Keeffe is also a qualified eye doctor.

The New Zealander works as an ophthalmologist when he is not on the field.

He has even co-founded oDocs Eye Care, who work to create medical technology that can prevent blindness.

Back in 2019, he explained, via Rugby World: "Certainly, no one can question my eyesight. I’m an Ophthalmologist.

"I’ve been lucky enough to balance both careers over the last couple of years as being a professional referee has become a full-time commitment."

O'Keeffe started refereeing in 2008 before turning professional five years later.



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He made the step up to officiating Super Rugby matches in 2015 and was one of the referees at the previous Rugby World Cup in 2019.

Aged just 30 at the time, O'Keeffe was the youngest referee at the tournament.

The 34-year-old later took charge of the second British & Irish Lions test during their 2021 tour of South Africa.

His officiating skills also saw him selected once again for this year's Rugby World Cup in France.

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O'Keeffe oversaw three matches during the pool stage and is set to be in charge of Sunday's quarter-final clash between host nation France and South Africa.

He will not let any online abuse get to him after the match, though, as he told the Rugby Bricks podcast in 2019.

"The sad thing is you’ll get a handful of people who can easily take the time and search for you on Facebook – even though I’m as private as I can be – and still send you a private message," he admitted.

"I often joke that if I’m in South Africa and I receive three messages saying how bad my performance was, I reckon I’ve had a pretty good game.

"When it gets to ten messages, you go ‘okay, I’ve done something wrong’."

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