London - French
referees will be in charge for two of the three Tests between New
Zealand and the British and Irish Lions in July, World Rugby announced
Jerome Garces will be the man in the middle for the second Test
between the world champion All Blacks and the Lions, a team made up of
leading players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, in Wellington
on July 1, with Romain Poite in control for the series finale in
Auckland a week later.
Their compatriot Pascal Gauzere will be the referee for the Lions'
second tour match, against the Blues at Auckland's Eden Park on June 7.
Both Poite and Garces were widely praised for their performances
during the recent Six Nations Championship, with Poite delivering one of
the quotes of the tournament when, with James Haskell querying Italy's
'no-ruck' ploy at Twickenham, he told the England back-row: "I am a
referee, not your coach".
Poite, who has now taken charge of more than 50 Tests in his career,
was also the referee for the Lions' victorious series finale against
Australia in Sydney four years ago.
However, the first Test in Auckland on June 24 - which many pundits
believe holds the key to the Lions' hopes of a first series win in New
Zealand since 1971 - will be refereed by Jaco Peyper.
The South African was also in charge of the opening match of the 2015
World Cup, between England and Fiji at Twickenham, where his repeated
use of the big screen and consultations with the television match
official saw Peyper widely criticised for slowing down the game and
failing to exert his authority.
With officials from New Zealand and the four countries comprising the
tourists ruled out of the Tests, it meant there was no role in the
Lions series for Wales' 2015 World Cup final referee Nigel Owens.