Referee Richard Kelly gets in line to ref at Rio
Top Taranaki referee Richard Kelly hopes the path he has taken will lead to him officiating at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He has just completed his first season on the International Rugby Board's elite sevens panel, a position which saw him referee at six tournaments across three continents.
From refereeing solely pool matches at his first tournament on the Gold Coast, the 32-year-old progressed to the semifinals at Glasgow and London.
While precluded from taking charge of the finals because New Zealand was involved, a first taste of the circuit has left Kelly wanting more.
"They [IRB] will decide on a group of referees they want to carry forward and those guys will be looked at to go through to the Olympics.
"They haven't made those appointments yet, and I'm not entirely sure when they will. Obviously I'm keen to put my name forward and pursue that sevens route."
He missed out on being at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow in July, with that selection taking place before he had an opportunity to establish himself on the circuit.
"It [Commonwealth Games] was a goal of mine when I sat down at the start of the year to map out my season. I would have liked to be there, but realistically, after one tournament I was never going to be appointed.
"The best option for me now is to carry on and put my name forward, because obviously doing cup semifinals and going as high in the tournaments as I possibly can will hopefully put me in a good position."
Kelly will be able to stake his claim to get to Brazil by being involved in Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Only the top four sides from the 2014/15 IRB world series qualify automatically for the Olympics, with the remainder left to scrap it out.
While he might he concentrating his efforts short-term on sevens, Kelly has not given up on progressing in the 15-a-side game.
"A lot of guys who go on to referee Super Rugby nowadays have come through the sevens circuit."
He will get back into the 15-a-side game tomorrow when he controls the Taranaki premier match between Inglewood and Coastal, before he runs the line over successive nights in Super Rugby when the Crusaders host the Force and the Chiefs play the Waratahs in New Plymouth next week.
Taranaki Daily News