Former international rugby referee settles case against IRFU

David McHugh claimed purported dismissal unlawful and in breach of contractual rights

A former international rugby referee has resolved his High Court proceedings brought against the Irish Rugby Football Union over a decision to dismiss him from his employment.

David McHugh was employed by the IRFU since 1997 and had held the role of referee performance manager. This involved coaching and managing the IRFU's elite referees for competitions including the PRO14, European Champions Cup and international test matches.

He claimed his purported dismissal was unlawful and in breach of his contractual rights and rights to fair procedures.

Last week, Mr McHugh, of Jacobs Island, Blackrock, Cork, secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the IRFU making any further publication relating to the purported termination of his employment on October 5th last.

He had also sought an injunction preventing the IRFU terminating his employment pending the outcome of the full hearing of his action against his employer.

Engaged in talks

However, when the matter returned before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor on Tuesday, he was told the parties were engaged in talks. The judge was later told the matter had been resolved and the proceedings could be struck out. No details of any agreement were disclosed.

Mr McHugh is well-known in rugby circles nationally and internationally. He has officiated at many major games, including two European Cup finals as well as the 2003, 1999 and 1995 Rugby World Cups.

The High Court previously heard he was informed his employment was being terminated at a meeting with IRFU officials on October 5th. He was told, following an independent review of the referee department, the IRFU did not believe he was the man to lead it going forward.

In a sworn statement, Mr McHugh said he had believed the meeting was held so he could discuss his grievances concerning resourcing referees with the IRFU officials.

He had regularly complained to the IRFU about the lack of resources within the referee department and his workload had become stressful, he said.