Johannesburg - The International Rugby Board has promised the best referees for this year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship games.
According to the supersport.com website, the IRB announced their panel of referees for the Rugby Championship after reviewing the performances in the June internationals, and have made some interesting announcements, including the appointment of Frenchman Jerome Garces for the crucial game between the Springboks and All Blacks in Wellington while Englishman Wayne Barnes will take charge of the return fixture at Ellis Park.
Garces was in charge of one of the England v New Zealand tests, and is rated highly. His countryman Romain Poite took charge of the fixture last year and was the centre of controversy when he gave a yellow card for a legal tackle to Bismarck du Plessis, forcing the IRB to later apologise for the incident. Poite returned to South Africa earlier this month to ref the Boks for the first time, in the first test against Wales, which the Boks won handsomely.
The Rugby Championship opener between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney on August 16 will be refereed by South Africa’s Jaco Peyper. The appointments for the 12 Championship fixtures feature a blend of northern and southern hemisphere match officials selected on form.
With Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification reaching its climax, the appointments have also been made for the key play-off matches, including the home and away Repechage matches that will determine the 20th and final team for England 2015. Romain Poite will take charge of the decisive match on October 11/12.
IRB Match Official Selection Committee Chairman John Jeffrey said: "As we build towards Rugby World Cup 2015, our focus continues to be clear and consistent decision-making and the highest standards of physical conditioning."
"The Rugby Championship 2014 appointments have been made following careful consideration to recent performances at elite level, including the June tests and other IRB Tournaments."
"We continue to consult with coaches in making our selection decisions and I would like to thank Unions for their full commitment and support of the official feedback channels."
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 ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
The IRB Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by John Jeffrey, comprises former elite referees Lyndon Bray (Sanzar), Andrew Cole (Sanzar), Donal Courtney (European Rugby Champions Cup), Clayton Thomas (Six Nations) and IRB High Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge.
South Africa vs Argentina
16 August 2014, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Argentina vs South Africa
23 August 2014
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Australia vs South Africa
6 September 2014
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (NZ) and Mike Fraser (NZ)
TMO: Ben Skeen
New Zealand vs South Africa
13 September 2014
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)
South Africa vs Australia
27 September 2014
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England) and Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
South Africa vs New Zealand
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzere (France) and JP Doyle (Wales).
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)