The International Rugby Board has announced the appointments of match officials for the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, which kicks off on February 4.
Appointments for the northern Hemisphere’s showcase international competition were made by the IRB Referees Selection Committee in Auckland, New Zealand following a detailed review of match official performances at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and other major competitions.
Welshman Nigel Owens will get the action underway when he referees World Cup runners-up France against Italy at the Stade de France, with Ireland’s George Clancy taking charge of Scotland versus England at Murrayfield on the same day.
England’s Wayne Barnes will complete the opening weekend of fixtures when he officiates at the Ireland v Wales match at the Aviva Stadium on February 5.
Chris Pollock, a reserve referee at the Rugby World Cup, will make his Six Nations refereeing debut when he takes charge of Ireland against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on March 10.
Pollock refereed his first Tri Nations match earlier in the year when he took charge of Australia against South Africa.
The World Cup final referee Craig Joubert has been appointed to two matches, taking charge of Ireland versus Italy at the Aviva Stadium on February 25 and Wales against France at the Millennium Stadium on March 17.
New Zealand’s Bryce Lawrence, a member of the 2011 World Cup match official team, has been rested following a busy year of international and domestic fixtures and is expected to return for the June 2012 Tests.
Appointments have also been made for Australia’s two-match tour to Europe at the end of this month.
France’s Romain Poite will take charge of the Wallabies’ clash with the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 26, while Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa will referee the match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on December 3.
IRB Referees Manager Paddy O’Brien said: “We have made the appointments immediately after the 2011 Rugby World Cup so match officials have the best possible preparation period ahead of the Six Nations, after what has been a physically demanding year of Test rugby.”
Click here to view the list of match official appointments for the 2012 RBS 6 Nations.