Veteran referee Steve Walsh has retired from refereeing after almost two decades officiating at the top level.
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The 43-year-old officiated in four Rugby World Cup’s, and took control of 60 Tests after making his debut in a match between Argentina and France in 1998.
Walsh announced he had retired from all forms of officiating to pursue outside business interests.
“I have lived my dream and I am truly grateful for every experience that I have had in rugby. It’s been an incredible journey,” Walsh said in a ARU statement.
“I would be doing all of the key stakeholders in the game an injustice if I was unable to 100 per cent channel my energies and devote my full attention towards refereeing. I would not want my new focus to impact the integrity of the competitions I am involved in.”
Walsh thanked both the Australian and New Zealand rugby associations after a controversy-fuelled career that saw him leave New Zealand for Australian rugby.
Walsh was sacked by New Zealand Rugby after following a string of issues involving alcohol.
“I will be forever indebted to Australian Rugby for including me so openly following a difficult period for me personally,” he said.
“I would also like to acknowledge my time with New Zealand Rugby. Their decision to end my contract in 2009 was challenging, but was ultimately the best thing that has ever happened in my life. It made me confront who I was and how I carried myself.”
ARU boss Bill Pulver thanked Walsh for his time in the game.
“His departure is a big loss to Australian rugby and the game globally, but we fully respect Steve’s decision to pursue his own personal dreams and wish him well,” Pulver said.
“Steve has been a terrific ambassador for Australian rugby, living the core values of our sport day in, day out.”