Veteran referee JP Doyle was in a reflective mood during an appearance on this week’s RugbyPass Offload five months after it was revealed that he had been made redundant by the RFU at Twickenham. Getting let go has not been an easy pill for the 41-year-old to swallow. He first refereed in the Premiership in 2006 and then became a full-time referee in 2010, leaving his old job as a teacher. 

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What to do next is still something he is not clear about. He did referee at the World Tens in Bermuda but has otherwise been inactive. The layoff, though, has provided Doyle with a chance to reflect on his career and when asked by RugbyPass Offload who were the toughest players verbally he had to referee, he listed quite a few names.

“The hardest players are the best players,” he said. “More and more now players are disassociated from the referee. They are all ‘next job, next job’. So it’s more the older players. 

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Referee JP Doyle joins Simon Zebo and Ryan Wilson on RugbyPass Offload

‘I guess Peter O’Mahony is a pretty difficult character, Johnny (Sexton). They would be the Irish guys. In Scotland, Greig Laidlaw was probably the hardest guy I had to deal with… he is such a good guy, a bright guy and a good captain, but he has that Borders accent that can be quite tough to understand when the gum shield is in. 

He was a real tough guy to deal with but often the tough guys are the ones you want to deal with. Rory Kockett from Castres is another guy who can be quite tricky. It’s normally the scrum-halves.

Generally the scrum-halves are the most verbose and difficult. In the Premiership, you have got quite a lot of different nationality scrum-halves in there. They can be quite difficult. Conor Murray is quite a tricky guy. When things don’t slide his way he can let you know pretty quickly that he is not that happy with you but then he will do something and his skill level dictates everything is okay in the world again. He can be quite difficult. 

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“Who else would be tricky? Sergio (Parisse) is pretty difficult as well. Nick Easter from Harlequins was always a real tough guy to deal with. A lot of the players that are difficult are very bright and very talented. They know what they are doing and know how to put you under pressure.”

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