Cape Town - South African referees Stuart Berry and Quinton Immelman have been named as part of the PRO14 Elite Referee Squad for this year's tournament.
Along with the two South Africans, 11 other referees will officiate matches, including Nigel Owens of Wales.
Greg Garner, Elite Referee Manager, has also confirmed the appointments for Round 1 of the PRO14 which will see Immelman become the first South African to officiate in the Championship.
Immelman will take charge of Ospreys v Zebre match and his compatriot Stuart Berry will be Assistant Referee 1 for the same fixture. Both of the South African officials are among SA Rugby’s premier referees.
In total, the Elite Referee Squad contains 10 international referees, including Nigel Owens, John Lacey and Marius Mitrea, as the PRO14 seeks to set higher standards under the guidance of Garner, who succeeded former Independent Referees Appointments Commissioner, Ed Morrison.
Garner has been busy preparing his squad for the new season where the focus will be placed on a consistent approach to refereeing the Global Law Trials that came into effect on August 1. With the support of all five participant unions in the PRO14 the Elite Referee Squad met last week in order to outline their goals for the season ahead.
This comes after the Garner and Mark Lawrence, SA Rugby’s High Performance Referee Manager, held a pre-season camp in Cape Town recently in order to prepare their officials for the upcoming campaign.
Garner was pleased to name the panel for an historic campaign for the Championship. “I’m delighted to name such a strong squad of referees ahead of the 2017/18 PRO14 season. The main attraction of this job was to work with such a high calibre group of officials from across five countries,” Garner said.
“The Championship has a reputation for attractive rugby and I know the World Rugby statistics show that. Referees play an important part in ensuring Positive Play but they are greatly helped by coaches and players who have the ambition to play exciting rugby.
“I’d like to congratulate all 13 members of the Elite Referee Squad for their selections while also welcoming Stuart and Quinton to the PRO14, too. Stuart is very experienced in Super Rugby and recently took charge of his 50th Currie Cup game while we have high expectations for Quinton who has risen quickly up the ranks as a premier referee in South Africa.
“Given that we have five different rugby cultures competing in the Championship it creates a demanding environment for our referees which they must perform in week in, week out. I'm very confident that this group can continue to set new standards and I wish them all the very best of luck ahead of such a land mark campaign for the PRO14.”
PRO14 Elite Referee Squad – 2017/18
Mike Adamson (SRU)
Competition debut: Munster v Benetton Rugby, Nov 2016
Stuart Berry (SA Rugby)
Vodacom Super Rugby debut: Toyota Cheetahs v Western Force, May 2012
Vodacom Super Rugby Appearances: 26
Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Competition debut: Cardiff Blues v Zebre, Sep 2015
George Clancy (IRFU)
Competition debut: Border Reivers v Dragons, Oct 2004
Ian Davies (WRU)
Competition debut: Connacht v Aironi, April 2012
Quinton Immelman (SA Rugby)
Vodacom Super Rugby debut: Toyota Cheetahs v Sunwolves, March 2016
Vodacom Super Rugby Appearances: 8
Dan Jones (WRU)
Competition debut: Munster v Zebre, Oct 2016
John Lacey (IRFU)
Competition debut: Edinburgh v Ospreys, Nov 2008
Marius Mitrea (FIR)
Competition debut: Connacht v Scarlets, Sep 2011
Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Competition debut: Dragons v Edinburgh, Nov 2016
Nigel Owens (WRU)
Competition debut: Border Reivers v Connacht, Aug 2002
Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Competition debut: Connacht v Zebre, Nov 2014
David Wilkinson (IRFU)
Competition debut: Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets, April 2008
Round 1 Appointments
Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh: George Clancy (IRFU)
Munster v Benetton Rugby: Ian Davies (WRU)
Ulster v Cheetahs: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Ospreys v Zebre Rugby Club: Quinton Immelman (SARU)
Dragons v Leinster: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Scarlets v Southern Kings: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)