Nigel Owens and George Clancy, who are both among the elite panel of 10 officials named for refereeing duty at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, have been appointed to control this weekend’s mouth-watering Magners League semi-finals.
Leading Welsh official Nigel Owens will be in charge when table toppers Munster meet fourth seeds and defending champions the Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday evening (kick-Off 6.30pm).
IRFU international referee George Clancy will be in action on Friday when second seeds Leinster clash with Ulster in an interprovincial clash at the RDS (kick-Off 7.05pm).
Owens and Clancy were also in charge of last season’s semi-finals – Owens controlling the victory by Leinster over Munster at the RDS and Clancy taking charge of the Ospreys’ home win over Glasgow Warriors.
Both officials are rated among the world’s top referees and on September 9 Clancy will have the honour of blowing the whistle for the start of the 2011 Rugby World Cup when he takes charge of the tournament opener between hosts New Zealand and Tonga at Eden Park.
The 34-year-old from Limerick, who has been in the middle for 13 internationals, will also be in the spotlight next weekend when he referees the Amlin Challenge Cup final between Harlequins and Stade Francais at Cardiff City Stadium.
Owens, the 37-year-old from Mynyddcerrig, has been in charge of 27 Tests as well as back-to-back Heineken Cup finals in 2008 and 2009.
The Irish venue for the Magners League grand final on Saturday, May 28 will be announced after Saturday’s play-off in Limerick.
GEORGE CLANCY FACTFILE
Born: January 12, 1977 in Limerick
Occupation: Civil servant
Magners League debut: Borders v Newport Gwent Dragons, October 2004
Magners League appearances: 40
International appearances: 14
NIGEL OWENS FACTFILE
Born: June 18, 1973 in Mynyddcerrig
Occupation: Professional referee, TV presenter and entertainer
Magners League debut: Borders v Connacht, August 2002
Magners League appearances: 73
International appearances: 27