As part of its ongoing review process and commitment to ensuring consistency and that the best referees are selected on form to officiate in the biggest matches in the run up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the IRB has announced a restructured and more streamlined selection process overseen by a vastly experienced committee.
The committee, which includes former elite referees Lyndon Bray, Tappe Henning (both SANZAR), Donal Courtney and Clayton Thomas (both Six Nations), will now meet four times per year and make selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed as part of the next round of international selections.
Following a thorough review of performances during the recently concluded RBS 6 Nations, the selection committee’s commitment to promoting consistency has been reflected in the latest selections.
Nine elite referees have been appointed to the top games in what is a busy June international window that also sees the beginning of the schedule involving tours to Tier 2 Unions.
The nine appointed referees are George Clancy (Ireland), Jérôme Garcès (France), Craig Joubert (South Africa), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Romain Poite (France), Alain Rolland (Ireland) and Steve Walsh (Australia).
Three IRFU international referees will take charge of international ties during the summer months, with Clancy pencilled in for the Argentina v France two-Test series.
Rolland will be the man in the middle for the Wales v Barbarians and South Africa v England games, while John Lacey will be on duty for England v Barbarians, Fiji v Japan and Samoa v Japan.
French official Jérôme Garcès will have the whistle for Ireland’s clash with the Barbarians on May 29, with Wales’ Nigel Owens wil referee the first two Tests between Ireland and New Zealand on June 9 and 16.
France’s Romain Poite has been appointed to the third New Zealand v Ireland Test in Hamilton on June 23.
For a full list of the match official appointments for the 2012 June Tests, please click here.
Acting chairman of the selection committee and IRB Council member for Scotland, John Jeffrey, said: “The IRB is committed to ensuring that the platform is in place to promote the very best refereeing standards at the elite level of the game.
“Our priority is the continued promotion of consistency and performance and our strategic goal is to deliver the best available panel for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, while at the same time applying the best-for-best principle in the selection of referees for each international window.
“There will be consistent movement in and out of the panel based on form to reward the top performers and those making the step up as we build towards the next World Cup in England.
“In short, this means that referees are selected on merit, in form and closer to the matches being played. All member Unions are committed to this process, which is essential for its success.”
Underscoring its commitment to ensuring selection on form, there will now be four selection meetings per year to tie in with the four international windows. At each meeting, the referee panel for the next international window will be reviewed and named.
The committee agreed that the key areas of the game identified for particular focus by referees needed constant reviewing. Those five key areas are:
– All aspects of the tackle with particular emphasis to be placed on the tackler releasing the tackled player and rolling away and arriving players staying on their feet
– Offside at the breakdown
– Offside from kicks
– All aspects of the scrum, particularly the engagement process and front row binding
– All aspects of the maul, particularly what constitutes legal maul defence
As part of the restructure, IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien has chosen to take on a new challenge after seven years of excellent service in his present role.
Having played an instrumental role in the advancement of elite match official preparation and performance, including the management of the referee team at two Rugby World Cups, he has decided that he requires a fresh challenge.
O’Brien will now focus his extensive experience into a similar role for Sevens, underlining the IRB’s commitment to Sevens ahead of rugby making its return to the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
He remains central to the match official process and is supportive of the restructure.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Paddy’s exceptional dedication and application to driving forward elite match official standards has significantly benefitted the game over the past seven years.
“I am delighted that he will be channelling all his experience into preparing the best up-and-coming match officials on the HSBC Sevens World Series to ensure that the very best referees are in peak form for 2016.”
The process for replacing O’Brien will be announced in due course.
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