10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
French Rugby Federation President Bernard Lapasset has confirmed that single tickets for next year's Rugby World Cup will go on sale from November 9.
The countdown is well and truly on to the 2007 RWC, with the first match between Argentina and hosts France (September 7, 2007) now less than a year away.
Over one million tickets have so far been sold for the event. More than 25% of all tickets sold have been to people outside of France, with Ireland currently the third-ranked nation in the list of the top 10 countries for ticket sales (outside of France) - England (1) and Wales (2) lead the way.
Lapasset, also the President of the 2007 Rugby World Cup Organising Commitee, said: "We've enjoyed some significant successes in the organisation phase, none more so than recently selling the one millionth ticket for the World Cup - one million sold and still more than a year before the event, which is extremely encouraging."
The IRB estimate than over 2 million spectators will attend the '07 World Cup, surpassing the 1.9 million mark set at the 2003 tournament in Australia.
The worldwide launch of single tickets for next year's World Cup will happen at 8am (Irish time) on Thursday, November 9. Tickets for all the pool matches, the quarter-finals and the third place play-offs will be available on www.rugbyworldcup.com and www.france2007.fr.
Tickets for the semi-finals and final will be available from the second trimester of 2007.
Lapasset, who lined out for Agen and the Paris University Club during his playing days, told Total Rugby Radio: "From November 9, we'll be selling single tickets for the first time over the internet which means that people will be able to chose exactly where they go and how they enjoy the World Cup.
"That's the first time World Cup tickets will have been sold individually around the world and it's a great step for the World Cup."
Commenting on the promotional aspect of the tournament, he added: "This year the organisation and the promotion of the football World Cup took a lot of the limelight, so we've let that run its course.
"Now though we're really stepping up our promotion of the Rugby World Cup to the whole of France and everybody's coming together. The people are getting excited, the local councils, the cities, the companies - big and small.
'You can really feel that the whole country is rallying behind the event and that means that when it comes to welcoming the teams and the fans next year, we'll be ready."