Donal Courtney, the former international referee, has been appointed as ERC's first Match Officials Performance Manager.
In creating the new role ERC, the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup organisers, have emphasised the huge importance they attach to the development of match officials at the highest level.
Mr Courtney will work closely with the Referee Managers from the Unions of the participating countries, together with the clubs and coaches across Europe to oversee ERC's Match Officials Development Strategy to raise the standards in all aspects of European tournament officiating.
With five match officials at every Heineken Cup game plus a TMO, Citing Commissioner and Performance Reviewer there are approximately 1,000 appointments made each season across both European tournaments.
Mr Courtney, who was educated at CBC Monkstown and Dublin University and played senior rugby with Monkstown FC before injury brought a premature end to his playing career in 1992, began his full international career in September 2002 when he took control of Uruguay's 34-23 defeat of Chile in a Rugby World Cup qualifier in Montevideo.
He went on to earn 21 full international referee caps as well as officiating in the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments since 2000, before retiring in April 2007. His final Test was the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to work in an industry which I am hugely passionate about. I hope to bring this passion and my extensive corporate and rugby refereeing experience to ERC. Our key objectives are the continued development of the existing ERC match officials and the identification of potential elite officials. By doing this ERC will ensure that the best match official talent is available to officiate at all ERC matches and that a clear succession plan exists. said Mr Courtney.
Mr Courtney is one of four new appointments to ERC, with Alan FitzGerald recruited as Marketing Manager and Michelle Flanagan and Tom Walsh joining the Events and Operations team of the Dublin based European tournament organisers.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.