Kelly steps up to the sevens international circuit

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2013
Richard Kelly
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
GLOBE TROTTER: Richard Kelly will be officiating around the world next year.

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Leading Taranaki referee Richard Kelly will be seeing plenty of the world next year after being appointed to the International Rugby Board's elite sevens panel.

Kelly, along with fellow New Zealander Nick Briant, has been included in the 17-strong squad that will officiate the remaining tournaments on the IRB world series circuit.

Although Kelly will not be included in the referees panel for the next three tournaments in Dubai, South Africa and the United States, he will officiate at the New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Scotland, and England legs.

Kelly already has one tournament under his belt for the 2013-14 series after he officiated at the Gold Coast tournament in Australia last month.

The selection of the squad was the first made by the newly-convened IRB sevens selectors, comprising IRB council member John Jeffrey, of Scotland, New Zealand's Vinny Munro and Paddy O'Brien, who is the IRB sevens referee manager, as well as Paddy McNally, of the United States.

Kelly said he was approached by New Zealand referees' assessor Bryce Lawrence about his interest in taking up a position in the squad.

After agreeing, he was profiled by the IRB selectors, who included him along with fellow newcomer Ben Crouse, of South Africa.

"I really enjoyed working at the Gold Coast [tournament], especially working with top level athletes" Kelly said.

"It's obviously a lot different than working with 15s because from a referee's point of view, you have to be a lot more technical. You also have to be a lot more sharp in your decision making process."

Kelly's previous experience with sevens has been limited, although he has controlled matches at the nationals in Queenstown, an international tournament in Singapore and run the touch at the IRB tournament in Wellington.

All going well, he wants to push for a spot officiating at the Olympic Games in Rio.

"The selection group is going to be quite slim for that, probably only one from each country and quite an elite group, maybe only six referees," he said.

Although a lot more of his focus will go on sevens, Kelly will not be lost to the 15-a-side game and hopes to continue his progress through the national provincial championship, where he has flitted in and out of favour during the past season.

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