Neutral referee appointments have been confirmed for the first six rounds of the GUINNESS PRO14 as the new season kicks off this weekend.
All seven appointments for round 1, which have been made by PRO14 Elite Referee Manager Greg Garner, are neutral and this will continue right up to round 6. Additionally, the majority of assistant referee 2 and television match official appointments are neutral.
This weekend’s line-up of referees will combine for a total of 353 Championship appearances with an average of 50 appearances per official. Additionally, five of the seven referees have previously been appointed to World Rugby international fixtures.
Speaking ahead of round 1, Garner spoke about the progress that has been made in recent seasons, saying: “It’s positive news that we have been able to confirm neutral referee appointments all the way up to round 6. We understand the demands that exist around the selection of neutral match officials and the key to this was always ensuring the capability existed to deliver on that.
“Throughout the first six rounds, capability and experience will go hand-in-hand and to see the combination of over 350 appearances available across this weekend’s referees is very reassuring. A huge amount of work has gone on in the background to ensure our match officials are better prepared than ever before and that we are pushing them to achieve higher standards.
“Already, we have implemented new review processes for our referees that include a greater level of independent assessment. We introduced dedicated analysts to ensure we are accurately tracking their performances and established a full review and feedback process is in place with every head coach and director of rugby in the GUINNESS PRO14.
“For the first time, we recently held a joint meeting with all of our referees and coaches ahead of the start of the season to ensure we are delivering a standard of rugby that benefits the Championship and allows our teams the opportunity to play in a consistent environment.
“An agreed list of focus areas was identified which will ensure our teams can thrive so that the PRO14 can continue to build its reputation for engaging and entertaining rugby.”
The focus areas on the breakdown, scrum, lineout and maul, space and foul play were set in a collaborative discussion with coaches and referees. In each area, a ‘critical few’ factors were identified in order to set performance markers and goals.
These guidelines have been shared with all match officials, teams and stakeholders with referee performances being judged against these criteria. The process around the TMO has also been targeted in order to facilitate more consistent outcomes during the coming season.
Interested in becoming a referee? Click here for information from the IRFU Referee Department.
GUINNESS PRO14 – ROUND 1 REFEREE APPOINTMENTS:
Friday, September 27 –
Toyota Cheetahs v Glasgow Warriors, Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, kick-off 7.05pm local time
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Ben Crouse, Griffin Colby (both SARU)
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe (SARU)
ULSTER v Ospreys, Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 7.35pm
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (IRFU), Andrea Piardi (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Penne (FIR)
Saturday, September 28 –
MUNSTER v Dragons, Thomond Park, kick-off 3pm
Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Fin Brown (SRU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)
Isuzu Southern Kings v Cardiff Blues, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, kick-off 4pm local time
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Divan Uys, Paul Mente (both SARU)
TMO: Christie Du Preez (SARU)
Benetton Rugby v LEINSTER, Stadio di Monigo, kick-off 6.15pm local time/5.15pm Irish time
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR), Gwyn Morris (WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Scarlets v CONNACHT, Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 5.15pm
Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (SARU), Mike English (WRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)
Edinburgh v Zebre, BT Murrayfield, kick-off 7.35pm
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (SRU), Mark Patton (IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)