London - South African referee Jonathan Kaplan has been relieved of his Test duties in August to allow him to recover for the Rugby World Cup after being injured in a scooter accident.The 44-year-old, who refereed his first test in 1997 and will be officiating at his fourth World Cup his third as a referee, suffered a leg injury in the accident.
Kaplan, the first referee to officiate in 50 Tests when he took charge of Scotland v Ireland in the 2009 Six Nations, was due to have been in charge of the Wales v England match on August 13 and Ireland's clash with France in Dublin on August 20.
Kaplan - who refereed the 2007 World Cup semi-final between France and England - was also down to be a linesman at this Saturday's first England v Wales match at Twickenham.
There are no fears, though, that he will not be fit in time for the World Cup when it gets underway in New Zealand on September 9.
"Jonathan is an exceptionally fit referee and he will be fully ready for the start of Rugby World Cup," said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien.
"Rather than rush him back to action, we took the decision to give Jonathan the best possible environment to return to peak fitness and conditioning ahead of the Tournament.
"The rehabilitation programme is underway and Jonathan is scheduled to referee in the Currie Cup to get match time ahead of Rugby World Cup. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery."
Kaplan will be replaced by Ireland’s Alain Rolland - who refereed the 2007 World Cup final - for Wales versus England, with John Lacey replacing Rolland as Assistant Referee.
South Africa’s Craig Joubert will now take charge of the Ireland versus France match with Ireland’s George Clancy stepping up to perform assistant referee duties for England versus Wales.