HELEN CLANCY was the proudest mum in Ireland yesterday when her son togged out in white and blue strip to referee the opening World Cup clash.
George Clancy was given the honour of marshalling the opening match between the All Blacks and Tonga straight after the spectacular opening ceremony.
The 34-year-old has had a meteoric rise through the ranks in the elite international refereeing world.
The civil servant, who lives in Co Limerick with his wife Evelyn, is only one of 10 referees picked from around the world to perform at the World Cup.
Helen said she was very excited yesterday when she saw her son jogging out onto the pitch to preside over a match watched by millions.
She said: “It was very exciting. He got the phone call about two months ago to tell him he was going to the World Cup.
“That was fantastic and then he got the phone call to ask him if he would do the opening game.
“He was at a hurling match in Bruff that day when he got the call but he had to keep it quiet for a while.
“His dad Saoirse and his wife Evelyn are out there with him.”
The Limerick mum, who watched the match at Clancy’s pub in Bruff yesterday, said the former fly-half took an interest in refereeing after sports injuries prevented him from pursuing his passion for rugby.
She said: “His dad Saoirse was very involved with Bruff Rugby Club and he was always mad into rugby.
“George went to the rugby school, St Munchin’s in Limerick city as well. But he suffered a few injuries and broke his leg so he decided to start refereeing.
“His dad suggested it to him. He started off with small games.”
She said her son has always been very cool-headed.
She said: “It is a great honour to referee the opening match.
“The match was a huge occasion coming straight after the opening ceremony. I’m sure he was dying to get started.”
She said her son has been busy with official meetings all week in Auckland.
She said: “He is so well trained. He has been very busy going to meetings all week.
“There are 10 referees and they all have to be singing off the same hymn sheet.”
Although his proud mum said she has been a bit reluctant to go to games presided over by her son: “I’m always a bit worried. You would nearly be afraid to go to a match in case they started criticising the referee.”
She said her dedicated son keeps fit with exercise sessions at the University of Limerick.
She said: “He works three days a week and he keeps fit a few mornings a week at UL.
“He started off refereeing school matches and he seemed to take to it very well.
“He has been refereeing Heineken Cup matches and qualifiers for the World Cup.”
She said she doesn’t know if her son will make it to the semi-finals or final in New Zealand.
“After the first round, five of the referees will be sent home. He doesn’t know yet what will happen.
“He will be there for six weeks and then he will see what happens after that.”
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