New Zealand referee Steve Walsh retires from officiating

Pulled out of Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Wales allowing Wayne Barnes to take charge

Leading international referee Steve Walsh has retired from all match officiating with immediate effect.

The Australian Rugby Union announced that 43-year-old Walsh is to pursue business interests outside of rugby.

Walsh officiated in four Rugby World Cup tournaments. The New Zealander took charge of his first Super Rugby match in 1997, and went on to referee 60 Test matches. making him the third-most ‘capped’ referee in history.

In a statement issued by the ARU, Walsh said: “I have lived my dream, and I am truly grateful for every experience that I have had in rugby. It’s been an incredible journey.

“I would be doing all of the key stakeholders in the game — from officials to the players to the fans — an injustice if I was unable to 100 per cent channel my energies and devote my full attention towards refereeing Super Rugby and Test Matches.

“I would not want my new focus to impact the integrity of the competitions in which I am involved.

“I will be forever indebted to Australian Rugby for including me so openly following a difficult period for me personally.

“I would also like to acknowledge my time with New Zealand Rugby.

“Their decision to end my contract in 2009 was challenging, but was ultimately the best thing that has ever happened in my life. It made me confront who I was, and how I carried myself.”