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Kerry Fitzgerald, a name synonymous with the best of the Queensland based referees.
Kerry took up refereeing in Queensland in 1977, and went on to make his test debut between New Zealand and Fiji in 1984.
He refereed a total 26 tests over his career and is best know for officiating the first ever Rugby World Cup final in 1987 between New Zealand and France at Eden Park.
His last test match was the 1991 World Cup Semi final between England and Scotland 6 weeks before he suddenly passed away. He was only 43 years old.
In honour of their most successful referee the QRRA established the Kerry Fitzgerald Medal awarded to the most outstanding referee, which Andrew Cole was the inaugural winner.
In 2003 the QRRA changed the criteria to “awarded on the occasion of a Referees Test debut”.
Under this criteria, previous winners were: Greg Hinton 2004, Paul Marks 2007, Stephen Hill 2009 and Rohan Hoffmann 2014.
This year’s Medal was presented to Rachel Horton who refereed Hong Kong v Fiji Women’s at the back end of 2016 then Italy v Ireland in the Women’s 6 Nations Championship earlier this year.
Nic Berry who also debuted at the end of 2016 is set to received his medal at the QRRA season launch in February as he was refereeing during the November Test Window.
The Citation for the medal reads:
“Kerry Fitzgerald was an esteemed member of the Association. It was he that pioneered what we now call "Preventative Rugby" and he that had that unique ability to manage the game on the field and be considered as doing it very well whilst remaining the 31st Man. His career was cut short whilst he was in his prime and his passing was a sad loss to all of those involved in Rugby. This medal was originally awarded to a First Grade Referee but now recognizes a QRRA(Brisbane) referee in his/her First International Appointment.”