Quarantined Wayne Barnes hasn’t been the only high profile referee absent from duty for the opening two restart rounds of the Gallagher Premiership – JP Doyle has also been nowhere to be seen.

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However, while Barnes has been marked absent due to UK government guidelines insisting that people who fly in from Spain must self-isolate for 14 days (Barnes flew out on holiday earlier this month when there were no UK quarantine restrictions regarding Spain), it has been reported that Doyle’s absence from the officiating roster for rounds 14 and 15 of the league is down to redundancy.

The UK Times are reporting that the 41-year-old Irishman, who has been refereeing in the Premiership since 2006 and been a full-time RFU employee since 2010, has been let go after the latest tranche of financial cuts at English rugby HQ affected the referees’ department. 

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Referee JP Doyle guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

Amid claims that the RFU face losses of up to £107million and that 139 jobs across the organisation must go, the 10-strong full-time panel of referees were told their jobs were also on the line.

Doyle was reportedly told last week that he was being made redundant and his name hasn’t featured for any of the duties in the restart Premiership games. 

It was last June when the Dubliner entertainingly guested on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series. Having refereed Premiership finals, Six Nations games and at the 2015 World Cup, he revealed how much the demands on fitness has increased during his time working as a full-time official.    

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“The game is now so quick,” he said. “When I started in the Premiership in 2009, I guess I covered about four-and-a-half kilometres in a game. Now there are games where I have broken the 10km barrier. I’ve only done that one or two times but you can cover 10kms in a game. The stoppages are now longer in a game but the ball in play is higher so you get less plays in a game. 

“Maybe there used to be 150 plays in a game but now people knock it on less, there is better continuity, so maybe there are 80 plays in a game but the ball in play has gone up. So you can easily have five or six 20, 30 phase (plays) in a game.

“The way players move nowadays, they do a lot of dropping back, stay in pods, stay in position. They actually don’t run that much more than they used to. But if you move the ball across the pitch like at Gloucester or even an England – look at how much England use the kick pass, for example – you have to cover that distance so it might be just running across the pitch, not up and down it, but you can cover very big distances.”

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