Last week the Australian Rugby Union announced that international referee Steve Walsh has retired from all forms of match officiating with immediate effect to pursue business interests outside of Rugby. Walsh, from New Zealand originally, represented Australia in recent years.
The 43-year-old is a veteran of four Rugby World Cups. Walsh made his Super Rugby refereeing debut in 1997 and took charge of a Test match for the first time a year later when Argentina played France and has refereed 60 Tests, making him the third most capped international referee of all-time.
Steve 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% 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 has ever happened in my life. It made me confront who I was and how I carried myself.”
World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Joel Jutge said: “Steve has been one of the top match officials in the world for many years and will be a loss to the international panel. Never afraid to make the tough decisions, Steve has a great feel for the game.
“He has successfully taken charge of some huge matches in both hemispheres and his talents were recognised when he was appointed to the Rugby World Cup 2007 second Semi-Final between South Africa and Argentina in Paris.
“On behalf of World Rugby I would like to thank him for the contribution he has made to our great game and wish him well as he looks forward to another challenge in the business world.”
Walsh was never far from the spotlight, being one of the more vocal referees around, and sometimes one of the most controversial. Below is a quick example of that, when he lost his cool with Stephen Hoiles. The clip also shows how he probably should have handled the situation.
He’s been a top man and a great referee the rest of the time though, so we wish him all the best!