Getting to know: George Clancy 

Rich Dore
14 December 2017

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Referee George Clancy is one of the most experienced in the game, with the Irishman nearing 100 appearances in the middle of Guinness PRO14 matches.

The 40-year-old from Limerick is also nearing half a century of internationals and has run the rule at two Rugby World Cups so far, with 2019 also fast-approaching.

Throw in dozens of European matches, a handful of 7s tournaments and a pair of Junior World Cups and it shows there’s no-one better to officiate rugby at the highest level – but who is the man behind the whistle?

Clancy has always been rugby mad – his day job is as a tax official and the Limerick-born referee even has an office that overlooks Thomond Park.

Clancy used to play rugby as a boy, a talented out-half for Bruff RFC, before playing rugby for his school – St Munchin’s College, where Anthony Foley and Jerry Flannery also played.

The Irishman also represented Limerick in Hurling, but had to sacrifice playing the sport when he found his calling as a rugby referee.

“I was kind of badgered into by my old man! He pestered me until I decided to give it a go and he’d refereed for a season or so.

“He obviously saw some attributes in me and thought I might be good at it. He didn’t referee at a high level but we’d watch matches together and chat through various laws and things.

“I’d finished playing rugby at that stage and so he probably thought it was a good way of keeping me in the game and then once I got involved in it, once I put my mind to something I generally see it through.

“I would’ve been 22 or 23 at the time, and then pretty soon I was refereeing at a level I’d not been able to play at, which gave me great encouragement to continue on.”

Clancy began his refereeing career with the Munster Association of referees in 2000 and officiated his first match between Garryowen and Richmond Under-15s – which remarkably finished up 0-0.

The Limerick man soon won a contract with the IRFU and looks back fondly on his first professional game, even if he found it a little tiring.

“It would’ve been in October 2004 and it was Borders against the Dragons.

“It went fairly smoothly but I remember Percy Montgomery was playing for the Dragons at the time – early in the match they scored a great try and I was doing a bit of puffing and he was concerned whether I was going to get through the game!

“It was definitely a step up from where I’d been before!”

Away from the game, Clancy has a Masters degree in international relations and a strong interest in politics and history.

From those humble days of taking charge of schoolboy games in Munster, Clancy has gone on to make the crucial decisions in the Rugby Championship, the Six Nations, and is looking forward to continuing to lead standards in the Guinness PRO14.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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