Frank Murphy, the former Leicester Tigers scrum-half, has been named among seven referees to take up professional contracts with the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Also on the list are John Lacey, who took charge of the Champions Cup match between Tigers and Racing 92 last weekend, and George Clancy, referee for the second round fixture against Castres at Welford Road this Saturday, as well as Andrew Brace, Sean Gallagher, Joy Neville and David Wilkinson.
Murphy spent two seasons with Tigers from 2006, scoring a try in the Premiership Final win in 2007 and starting the European Cup Final in the same season, totalling 46 games for the club before returning to Ireland and joining Connacht.
He refereed his first professional game in 2016 when he took charge of the Dragons versus Edinburgh in the Pro 12 and officiated his first international game between Germany and Portugal soon afterwards as well as participating in the Junior World Cup 2017 in Georgia.
The professionally contracted referees will receive dedicated coaching, analysis, and strength and conditioning support.