World Rugby has confirmed the team of match officials who have been selected for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France later this year. Four Irish officials are included in the total of 26 Emirates Match Officials (12 referees, seven assistant referees and seven Television Match Officials) representing nine nations with more than 630 test appearances between them.
Andrew Brace is named in the Referee panel, Chris Busby in the Assistant Referee panel and Joy Neville and Brian MacNeice are in the TMO panel.
In an experienced referee group, Wayne Barnes (England), holder of the most test appearances (102), will officiate in a fifth-straight Rugby World Cup in the country in which he debuted in 2007. Meanwhile, Nika Amashukeli will make history as the first Georgian to officiate at a Rugby World Cup.
Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee Joy Neville (Ireland) becomes the first woman to officiate at a men’s Rugby World Cup, taking her place as TMO. Fellow TMO Ben Whitehouse (Wales) will follow in the footsteps of his father Nigel, who was an assistant referee and TMO at RWC 2003.
Speaking about the appointments, IRFU Head of Referees Dudley Phillips commented, “We are very proud to have 4 Match Officials appointed to represent the IRFU at Rugby World Cup 2023 which is the result of the hard work & dedication of our entire team on and off the field.
“To be selected to represent your country at a World Cup is the pinnacle of an athlete’s career, which very few get to experience.
With Andy Brace being selected for a second World Cup he continues to cement himself as a leading referee. Joy, Chris & Brian continue to rise through the ranks and are rewarded with their first selections to a World Cup. We are also extremely proud of Joy as the first female Match Official to be selected to officiate at a men’s World Cup.
“We look forward to watching & supporting Andy, Chris, Joy & Brian in their fixtures leading up to and including the World Cup itself.”
Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Wayne Barnes (England), Nic Berry (Australia), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England), Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Mathieu Raynal (France), Paul Williams (New Zealand).
Chris Busby (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France), James Doleman (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales), Andrea Piardi (Italy), Christophe Ridley (England), Jordan Way (Australia).
Television Match Officials
Brett Cronan (Australia), Tom Foley (England), Marius Jonker (South Africa), Brian MacNeice (Ireland), Joy Neville (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Ben Whitehouse (Wales).
Chairman of the Match Officials Selection Committee Graham Mourie said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the 26 match officials selected for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
“Like the players, they have earned their place on merit and have worked incredibly hard, making many sacrifices to be in contention for selection.
“I would like to put on record our thanks to them and those who just missed out. It speaks volumes about this group that, like every great team, they have all encouraged each other along the way.
“These men and women are not only representing their nations, they are also representing the global officiating fraternity and truly are ‘everyone’s team’, playing their full part in enabling players to perform to their best at our pinnacle men’s event and we should all get behind them.”
World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Official Manager Joël Jutge added: “The journey to Rugby World Cup 2023 is not an easy one for match officials. There are fewer roles with as much public scrutiny, but I am proud of how the team has responded to the ups and downs, always being open and acting with integrity.
“Selection is one milestone, and we have a lot of work to do before the start of the tournament with warm-up matches and The Rugby Championship. But this team has a great work ethic, an unwavering spirit and a great bond and we will all benefit from increased time together as we prepare for what will be a very special Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”
The appointments for the pool phase will be announced after the completion of The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup preparation matches.