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Axed Premiership referee JP Doyle breaks his silence following RFU redundancy

By Liam Heagney

Former Gallagher Premiership referee JP Doyle has broken his silence about the RFU redundancy that has ended his long connection with top-flight rugby in England. After his name was marked absent from the opening two rounds of appointments for the recently restarted 2019/20 Premiership, it emerged that the popular Irishman had lost his job due to the overall financial cutbacks affecting English rugby HQ at Twickenham.


Amid claims that the RFU face losses of up to £107million and that 139 jobs across the organisation had to go, the ten-strong full-time panel of referees learned earlier this summer that their jobs were also on the line.

That process eventually resulted in the release of the popular 41-year-old who had been refereeing in the Premiership since 2006 and was a full-time RFU employee since 2010. There have since been calls for Doyle to join up with the Guinness PRO14 where there is regular criticism about its inconsistent refereeing standards. 

However, appearing on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, the show hosted by Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton, Doyle said he was biding his time before his next move and added that he could even return to reaching, his old profession before he became a full-time referee. 

Explaining his redundancy after a ten-year full-time stint, he said: “Services no longer required unfortunately due to Covid and the cutbacks at the RFU and the business of the business, I guess. Sport is sport and you have to take your licks and get on with it. 

“When redundancies are happening, and there is a lot of people going through that at the moment, you have just got to go through the process and what will out will out. Often you speak to people and these are great opportunities to reset and go again. 


“The best way I can describe it is it’s a very sad and sudden stop. I’d love to be doing a game this weekend but there are great refs out there. There are other guys who can do the games. I’d only love to be out there for me because I really love doing it and I really like being out there. The teams, the coaches, supporters, the support staff around the teams who I used to really enjoy being involved with. 

“Look, the game will go on. There will be other people to do the games and they will referee them brilliantly. The RFU have got a great set-up, great referees. For me, it’s sad and it’s sudden. Yeah, I feel gutted but rugby goes on, sport goes on.

“The situation is what the situation is. It has been pretty public what is going on at the RFU. They are having to do what they have to do to ensure the future. The future of the game is far more important than the future of JP Doyle. That is what we have got to remember. 

“We want rugby to be bigger and better and brighter and kick on. Rugby doesn’t need me. I love the game but the game loves nobody. It’s okay. It moves on and you reassess and go again. It is sad but it’s okay as well.


“The ironic thing is the last thing I did (as an RFU employee) was a bronco test. I was good to go (for the English season restart) but it wasn’t to be. With PRO14, they have their guys, they have their panel and it is also run by their unions. 

“They have their guys coming through that they want to develop and want to get better. Sure, if someone asked me to go and referee I’d take a look but for them, it’s important to develop their referees. They have great refs, all the countries have international refs. They want to bring more through, so you can understand where they are with that.”

 Not being at a rugby ground somewhere in England in recent weekends, though, is taking Doyle a bit of time getting used to. “What is weird and what is great is the last two weekends I have been able to actually see people at weekends,” he explained. 

“I can come across and have a beer and a bowl of crisps on a Saturday afternoon and that has been lovely. I’m sure that will wear thin. I was a school teacher before this so I can go back. 

“If I miss out and leave rugby I will be sad. Maybe there is something in and around the media I would love to do, but Covid is contracting everything at the moment so we are just eyes open, wide awake to see what we can find out there. I loved teaching before I came into rugby and I still do. We’ll just see what happens.”





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