World Rugby have announced the match official appointments for the 2018 June internationals. Appointments have been made to 28 matches, including Ireland’s three-Test tour of Australia.
A team of 29 referees and assistant referees and 10 TMOs have been selected on merit, reflecting a strong blend of experience and emerging talent as World Rugby’s Match Officials Selection Committee look towards Rugby World Cup 2019 and beyond.
NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland will be back in action on Saturday, June 9 when they face Australia at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. The series opener will be refereed by South African Marius van der Westhuizen, who took charge of Ireland’s 2016 GUINNESS Series win over Canada.
New Zealand’s Paul Williams, who refereed Ireland v Fiji last November, will have the whistle for the second Test between Ireland and Australia at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday, June 16, while Pascal Gauzere of France has been appointed for the third and final game on Saturday, June 23 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Some of the IRFU international referees will also be on duty around the globe in June, with Andrew Brace refereeing Argentina v Wales on June 9 – almost twelve months to the day of his Test debut in Canada – before staying on Argentinian soil for two assistant referee appointments.
Brace’s Munster colleague John Lacey will be in New Zealand at the same time, refereeing the third Test between the All Blacks and France on June 23 following two earlier run-outs as an AR. George Clancy will run the line for the Canada v Scotland and Canada v Russia matches, while Frank Murphy is heading Stateside for two AR appointments – South Africa v Wales and USA v Russia.
Simon McDowell will also provide Irish representation during the South Africa v England series in June, taking in all three Tests in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town as the appointed television match official.
All bar three of the 24 referees selected for the June Tests have graduated via the World Rugby Under-20 Championship. The appointments follow a full review of the recent NatWest 6 Nations, which saw continued collaboration and dialogue between teams and match officials to ensure alignment in approach to key game areas with an emphasis on rewarding positive play.
This included renewed focus on scrum pre-engagement and crooked feeds, zero-tolerance to closing the gap and contact in the air the lineout, promotion of a fair contest at the tackle/ruck, zero-tolerance of clearing out beyond the tackle/ruck and observing of the offside line at the ruck and from restarts.
This approach was endorsed at a workshop with northern and southern Hemisphere coaches following the Six Nations Championship and will continue into June.
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “We are on track in our mission to reach Rugby World Cup 2019 with the best-possible team of in-form match officials who are aligned, consistent and accurate in their decision-making, which was certainly a factor during the recent Six Nations.
“There is no doubt that the match official mini-camps that operate during major Championships and windows, coupled with stronger collaboration and dialogue with coaches, is having a positive impact on the way the game is officiated, promoting consistency, accuracy and clarity for all.”
The selection system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway. Every performance is closely scrutinised and reviewed to ensure accountability. In addition, there is regular consultation with coaches with their feedback helping to inform selection decisions.
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