Paddy O'Brien (rugby union)
|Date of birth||19 July 1959|
|Place of birth||Southland, New Zealand|
|Rugby union career|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
|Rugby World Cup
Paddy O'Brien, ONZM (born 19 July 1959 in Southland, New Zealand) is a New Zealand international rugby union referee, and former head of the International Rugby Board's Referee Board. He played his rugby as a full back and wing for Southland at Under 18 and B level, as well as Sevens, between 1976 and 1984.
O'Brien began refereeing with the Southland Referees Association in 1984 and combined that with 17 years in the New Zealand Police force before turning professional in 1996 with his first game in the Super 12. He took charge of his first Test match on 23 October 1994 with the Rugby World Cup qualifier between Hong Kong and South Korea in Kuala Lumpur. The Koreans won 28-17. He became New Zealand’s most capped Test official on 29 March 2003 when he officiated the Six Nations encounter between France and Wales in Paris for his 27th Test, taking him past Dave Bishop’s record. He has also officiated matches of the British and Irish Lions, including the deciding third test on their 2001 tour to Australia.
In 2007, O'Brien, in his capacity as Rugby World Cup Chief Of Officials, defended criticism of the refereeing of Wayne Barnes in the France versus New Zealand quarterfinal. Commenting on death threats made against Barnes he said "I think it's a disgrace and people have to grow up."  He also accused the coach of the United States team, Peter Thorburn, of lying when Thorburn stated that there had been a pre-tournament directive that touch judges shouldn't interfere in issues like forward passes. O'Brien later apologized to Thorburn.
In November 2009, O'Brien publicly apologized to New Zealand with regards to the refereeing performance of Stuart Dickinson during an international match against Italy. He subsequently issued a public apology to both Dickinson and the Australian Rugby Union for his breach of IRB protocol in making his comments public rather than going through official channels for commenting on referee performance.
During the 2011 Rugby World Cup O'Brien publicly defended referee Alain Rolland's decision to issue Wales Captain Sam Warburton a straight red card during their semi final match against France stating "Alain Rolland's decision to issue a red card was absolutely correct in law and in keeping with the clear instructions that match officials have received in recent years regarding dangerous tackling." 
In May 2012 he was released as head of the Referee Board and substituted by a commission of four members 
- "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2005". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2005-06-06.
- "Comments on Wayne Barnes death threats.". nzherald.co.nz. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
- "O'Brien accuses U.S.A coach of lying.". nzherald.co.nz. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
- "Apology to Peter Thorburn.". stuff.co.nz. 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
- "Victory for All Blacks over scrum farce". New Zealand Herald. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
- Worldcupweb.com. 2009-11-20 http://www.worldcupweb.com/rugb/news/viewarticle.asp?id=23211
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Rees, Paul (2011-10-16). "Rugby World Cup 2011: IRB chief backs Alain Rolland on Wales red card". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-10-17.
- IRB unveils referee selection restructure