* 10 Referees selected in streamlined Panel
* George Clancy to referee Opening Match
* Appointments for Pool phase announced in August
The International Rugby Board has announced the Panel of match officials who will preside over the 48 matches at Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand in September and October.
A streamlined Panel of 10 Referees will be supported by seven dedicated Assistant Referees and four Television Match Officials at Rugby’s showcase event.
The selection was made after a comprehensive review of refereeing performances by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by IRB Council Member David Pickering, at its meeting in Dublin on Tuesday and Wednesday.
While the appointments for the 40 Pool matches will not be announced until August, the IRB can confirm that Ireland’s George Clancy, making his Rugby World Cup debut, will take charge of the opening match between hosts New Zealand and Tonga at Eden Park on September 9.
Appointments for the knock-out matches will be made following a performance review after the completion of the pool phase when 10 of the 21 match officials will be retained.
Clancy is joined in the Panel by countryman and Rugby World Cup 2007 Final Referee Alain Rolland, England’s Dave Pearson and Wayne Barnes, France’s Romain Poite, New Zealand’s Bryce Lawrence, South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Jonathan Kaplan, Nigel Owens of Wales and Australia’s Steve Walsh.
Kaplan and Walsh will be officiating at their fourth Rugby World Cup (a tournament record), while the referees have taken charge of 287 Tests between them at an average of 28.7 Tests per Referee.
The IRB Match Official Selection Committee is pleased with the way that the High Performance Referees have responded to refereeing the key areas of the Game identified 12 months ago and also the manner in which they have responded to a lift in fitness standards that have been set over the course of the past two years in preparation for Rugby World Cup 2011,” said Pickering.
“In selecting 10 Referees we are underlining our commitment to further enhancing consistency and a policy of selecting the best match officials for the world’s best teams at Rugby’s showcase tournament.”
“While inevitably there are those who are unlucky to miss out on selection, it is really exciting to see the likes of George Clancy, Dave Pearson, Romain Poite, Bryce Lawrence and Craig Joubert included within a Rugby World Cup Referee Panel for the first time on merit.”
In addition to the Panel of 10 Rugby World Cup Referees, seven specialist Assistant Referees have been selected who will assist during the tournament’s pool stages. Chris Pollock and Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Jerome Garces (France), Stuart Terheege (England), Tim Hayes (Wales), Simon McDowell (Ireland) and Carlo Damasco (Italy) comprise the Panel. Pollock and Garces are the reserve Referees for the Tournament.
Four highly experienced Television Match Officials complete the Panel. Giulio De Santis (Italy), Graham Hughes (England), Matt Goddard (Australia) and Shaun Veldsman (South Africa) will preside over every match.
The IRB Match Official Selection Committee has also announced the appointments for the May-August international match schedule that incorporates the pre-Rugby World Cup Tests, IRB Pacific Nations Cup, IRB Nations Cup and Tri Nations. A highlight includes Chris Pollock taking charge of his first Tri Nations Test when he officiates the 2011 opener between Australia and South Africa in Sydney on July 23.