One of Irish rugby’s up-and-coming referees, Peter Fitzgibbon, has been handed his first international Test match to take charge of having impressed last season and in particular, during the summer’s IRB Junior World Championship in Wales.
Peter Fitzgibbon refereed the IRB Junior World Championship final between New Zealand and England in June. A former player with Thomond, he took up the position of IRFU Leisure Rugby Referee Development Officer earlier this year.
Fitzgibbon had a successful Heineken Cup debut last season by taking charge of Cardiff v Bristol and is following in the footsteps of his good friend George Clancy, who was selected for the IRB Referee Panel in April and refereed his first full international between South Africa and Italy in Cape Town during the summer.
The International Rugby Board has confirmed the full match official appointments list for the Test matches that will be played during November and December.
The selection was made by the IRB’s Match Official Selection Committee at its meeting in Dublin last Wednesday, following a comprehensive review of international referee performances over the past six months.
Another member of the IRFU refreree panel David Keane, has been chosen for the IRB 7s World Cup in Dubai next March. Keane has handled a number of top flight 7s games on the world circuit in recent seasons where he officiated at two finals in the eight-leg grand prix of the IRB World Sevens Series.
Ireland’s Alan Lewis will kick off a busy period of international rugby when Australia and New Zealand meet in Hong Kong in the ‘fourth Bledisloe Test’ on November 1.
His countryman Fitzgibbon will make his Test debut when he takes charge of the first of two Tests between Japan and the USA in Nagoya on November 16. He will also referee the second Test in Tokyo on November 22.
The appointments also include Australia v the Barbarians in London on December 3. England’s Chris White will take charge of the fixture, which will be the first rugby match to be played at the new Wembley Stadium.
For Ireland’s autumn internationals, France’s Christophe Berdos will referee the match against Canada at Thomond Park on November 8 and South African Mark Lawrence will be the man in the middle for the Croke Park clash with the All Blacks on November 15.
Meanwhile, Bryce Lawrence from New Zealand has been chosen to referee the Ireland v Argentina tie at Croke Park on November 22.
IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien explained: “The IRB has panels of 17 international referees, 23 assistant referees and seven dedicated television match officials operating across all Tier 1 Test matches. It is from these specialist panels that the appointments from the November Tests were made.
“The match official appointments for the 2009 RBS Six Nations will be announced after the completion of the November Tests when performances will again be reviewed.”
Click here for a full list of the match official appointments for the November and December Test matches.