Frank Murphy made the successful transition from player to match official.
The former Munster and Connacht scrum-half, who also played in the 2007 Premiership Final and Heineken Cup final for Leicester Tigers, rose through the officiating ranks after hanging up his boots and is now a member of the Guinness PRO14 elite referee squad.
However, had his post-playing career not gone to plan, the 36-year-old had other talents that he could have fallen back on.
Murphy has plenty of other strings to his bow, as he reveals in his Guinness PRO14 Q&A.
If you weren’t a referee, what would you be doing?
I played professionally for 13 years and I was always aware that I had to do something when I finished.
I was also aware that I wanted to keep doing something that I loved, so I got a degree in graphic design and I freelance as an illustrator.
I do a lot of stuff for websites and I’ve been published in quite a few magazines, particularly in the UK – I’ve been in Forbes magazine and quite a lot of obscure ones.
I’m also a qualified art teacher, so I’d be somewhere on the creative side of things.
Where’s the most exotic place refereeing has taken you?
The farthest I have been to referee so far is Tbilisi in Georgia.
I guess, on the PRO14 circuit, we’re lucky enough that we get to go to places like Venice, which is next to Treviso.
If you could change one rugby law, what would it be?
I would give each captain one challenge each to check a decision with the TMO.
If money were no object, where in the world would you like to visit?
That’s easy – I’d pick New York.
What is your pre-match routine before a game?
I’m not a very superstitious person, which a lot of players can be – I don’t know many referees that are like that.
I have a warm-up before the game that I like to stick to, and that’s about it, really.
What do you discuss with your assistant referees ahead of a match?
We like to go through our roles during the game and we just get clarity on how we want things to work, and clarity in terms of what input I want from them in different situations.
It’s very simple but to-the-point, just to make sure we make the right decisions on the pitch.
For me, it’s just a talk about a clarity, to make sure we know what we’re doing.
If you could invite five people to a dinner party, who would you choose?
I would invite Roy Keane, Sonia O’Sullivan, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, the Sultans of Ping FC and Michael Collins.
What do you discuss with fellow referees when you get together?
We’ll discuss rugby! We’ll always look for advice from each other and try to help each other out.
There might be a decision that we discuss and when we do get together, I think it’s really important that we share our knowledge because that’s the best way for us to learn.
What’s the hardest part about being a referee?
I suppose that once you’ve finished the game, you’re with your touch judges but then you go home.
That’s the big difference from playing. You don’t meet up with the lads on a Monday morning – you’re reviewing it yourself.
I suppose there’s an element of it being solitary.
What advice would you give to an up-and-coming referee?
I think you should just focus on the simple things. Do them well and you can’t go too far wrong.
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