While the world’s top match officials are finalising their preparations for this year’s Rugby World Cup, the next generation of international referees have assembled in Italy to begin their journey towards the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The 2011 IRB Junior World Championship, which brings together the best Under-20 players from 12 national teams, will deliver the development platform for the very best up and coming referees and assistant referees to prepare for the challenging Test match environment.
The class of 2011 features a blend of experience and up-and-coming talent spotted via a dedicated talent identification system involving member Unions and the IRB selectors.
All of the officials have proven themselves at elite club level and are ready to take the next steps in a high intensity tournament format.
Working with IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien and a team of IRB selectors, each of the match officials will have access to a dedicated performance management environment that will promote consistency and raise performance levels.
O’Brien said: “Officiating at a Junior World Championship provides the panel with exposure to a high-level development environment that mixes an intense schedule of matches with a dedicated coaching and performance management platform.”
Key focus areas for this year’s IRB Junior World Championship panel include zero tolerance on foul play, including high tackles, delivering consistency in the five key refereeing areas including compliance at the scrum and the strict enforcement of the offside laws ensuring that players have the space to attack.
“Over the next two-and-a-half weeks we will work closely with each match official to raise standards and ingrain a level of consistency that will lay the foundations for the progression of their respective careers,” continued O’Brien.
“This environment has proven successful in delivering Test referees with New Zealand’s Chris Pollock, France’s Jérôme Garces and Carlo Damasco of Italy all selected as assistant referees for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“We certainly hope to see members of this group selected for the 2015 Rugby World in England – that is the target.”
The match official appointments for the Junior World Championship’s opening round of matches today include referees from six different nations – South Africa, Wales, Ireland, France, England and Scotland.
Jaco Peyper of South Africa has the honour of refereeing the mouth-watering encounter between England and Ireland at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso, with Welshman Leighton Hodges in charge of the match between hosts Italy and defending champions New Zealand at the same venue.
IRFU referee John Lacey will be the man in the middle for the other Pool A match between Argentina and Wales at Stadio Plebiscito in Padova, before Mathieu Raynal of France takes charge of South Africa v Scotland.
The day’s final matches at the Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo – the Pool B matches between Australia and Tonga and France v Fiji – will be referred by JP Doyle of England and Scotland’s Neil Paterson respectively.
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