The Rugby Football Union’s decision to make long-serving referee JP Doyle redundant has received a strong backlash from fans across the Gallagher Premiership. This brings to an end the Irishman’s 14-year association with the Premiership, where he refereed the 2014 and 2017 finals which both coincidentally went to extra time.
Despite the referee’s reputation and experience, there are claims that the RFU are facing losses of up to £107million and that 139 jobs across the organisation must go as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the ten-strong full-time panel of referees were told their jobs were also on the line.
Although these are unforeseen circumstances, that has not dampened the reaction on social media about Doyle. The feeling is that English rugby has lost one of the best referees it has. Moreover, there have been suggestions as to where the RFU may be able to cut costs elsewhere.
In a sport where the referee is a key influence on how much fans enjoy the spectacle, a decision like this warrants the reaction of supporters being taken into account.
The Dubliner, who is not a particularly whistle-happy referee, endeared himself to viewers due to the flow of the game that was created.
At the moment they seem to be making a mockery of our game and I personally have no confidence in them to look after the beautiful game we play and watch #rugby
— Ian Woodwiss (@Iwoody9) August 21, 2020
I see the RFU have made JP Doyle redundant.
So you’re just gonna get rid of one of the best referees you have available?
Brilliant idea! ?
— Tia (@TiShrimp) August 21, 2020
Dearth of quality refs as it is. Some are at best mediocre and worst, incompetent.
JP Doyle one of the best along with Barnes, Carley, Dickson and Pearce.
— John Drake (@Drakey1951) August 21, 2020
Really hope this isn’t true or the end of one of our best referees. Superb gent and my favourite ref. so many other areas the RFU can save money… starting with the governance structure and army of administrators! https://t.co/5P2xa5Ytb8
— Artsim (@sra7358) August 21, 2020
Very sad to hear about JP Doyle’s redundancy. Probably highlights the current crisis that the RFU is facing more than anything else.
One of the top referees, who in around 2014-15 was arguably the best in the world.
— Matt Gretton (@mattgretton1) August 20, 2020
JP Doyle getting made redundant is terrible for him, and awful for rugby. There are precious few really good referees, and while JP might not be perfect, no officials are, and he’s a hell of a long way up the list. Presumably he’s also comparatively well paid, though.
— Tom Dare (@Repka) August 20, 2020
With Doyle, 41, now effectively a free agent, many feel this is an opportunity for the Guinness PRO14 to swoop and bolster their ranks.
Of course, all leagues will be under financial pressure at the moment, but this is a chance that some feel should not go begging.
Former Ireland and Munster hooker Jerry Flannery, who is now working as lineout coach for Harlequins, is part of the campaign for the PRO14 to make a move for his compatriot, saying the league would “benefit hugely” from recruiting him.
The PRO14 season is set to resume is 2019/20 season this weekend and the consensus is that Doyle is a referee who is too good to be out of the game too long.
— Jerry Flannery (@jerryflannery) August 20, 2020
— Shona412 (@Shona4121) August 21, 2020
— Hawkeye Sidekick (@hawkeyesidekick) August 20, 2020
@happyeggshaped can you start a campaign to get JP Doyle in the pro14, too good a referee to be made redundant.
— Matt Stevens (@Stiglar5360) August 20, 2020
Very sad to hear that @jpref9 has been made redundant by the RFU. One of the best refs in the world and such a likeable bloke with a brilliant rapport with the players. Hopefully he won’t be out the game for long as we need top refs and characters like JP
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) August 20, 2020
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