The International Rugby Board has confirmed that England’s Chris White has withdrawn from refereeing Saturday’s opening RBS 6 Nations championship match between Ireland and Italy at Croke Park.
White, who was the man in the middle for Ireland’s World Cup pool defeat to France in September, has been ruled out of Saturday’s game due to a minor calf injury and will be replaced by South Africa’s Jonathan Kaplan.
IRB Referee manager Paddy O’Brien said: “It is a blow for Chris to be missing the opening game of the championship through injury. However, it is not serious, we will be monitoring his progress and we hope to see him back to full fitness in a couple of weeks in order to perform his other championship appointments.”
White’s withdrawal means that there are also changes to the championship Touch Judge appointments. Wayne Barnes will take White’s place for Ireland’s trip to France on February 9, while Nigel Owens comes in for the Englishman for Ireland v Scotland at Croke Park on February 23.
The two further changes made to the Touch Judge appointments, announced last October, are Scotland’s Peter Allan replacing his country man, the recently retired Malcolm Changleng, for Wales v Italy on February 23, while another Scot, David Changleng, has been added to the Ireland v Italy fixture this weekend.