David McHugh

2003-10-01 10:54

Sydney - David McHugh hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons on August 10 2002 when, shortly after half-time in the Tri-Nations match between South Africa and New Zealand in Durban, he was assaulted by fan Pieter Van Zyl.

The Irish referee was understandably shaken by the ordeal and left with a painful dislocated shoulder after being rugby tackled to the ground as he was just about to set a scrum at the ABSA Stadium. Van Zyl was later convicted of assault.

McHugh, who turns 48 a few days before Christmas, began refereeing in 1984 and made his Test debut on September 17 1994 when Wales beat Romania 16-9 in Bucharest.

A former scrum-half with Aer Lingus, Highfield, Ballincollig and Cork, McHugh made his Rugby World Cup debut a year later when he took charge of South Africa's 20-0 defeat of Canada in Johannesburg.

McHugh, who also officiated at Rugby World Cup 1999, refereed the inaugural European Cup final in 1996 between Toulouse and Cardiff, and then became the first to control two finals with the 2001 showdown between Leicester and Stade Francais.

The full-time referee, who now lives in Cork, has more than 20 Tests to his name.