Nine match officials, selected from Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Wales, have arrived in Manchester to take charge of the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship.
Paul Williams (New Zealand), (clockwise from top left), Thomas Charabas (France), Graham Cooper (Australia), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Juan Sylvestre (Argentina), Craig Maxwell Keys (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Elia Rizzo (Italy), and Craig Evans (Wales), all make the grade.
World Rugby sees the U20 Championship as a crucial development tournament for emerging match officials with many of the current top international referees having previously appeared in it. Commenting earlier in the year, when the panel was first announced, outgoing World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge said, “The U20 Championship is a crucial platform for referees to take the next step up.
“With the level of competition increasing year on year, the tournament is an important part of our process to develop referees. They are aided by referee selectors and coaches, and the feedback they receive will benefit them for years to come.
“We are now seeing the majority of U20 Championship referees move up to the elite level and I have no doubt that this quality group of match officials can do the same.”
Italian referee Elia Rizzo, 26, (pictured right) will appear at his second U20 Championship, after also being chosen for last year’s tournament in his native country; “The championship is a fantastic competition and it represents a great opportunity for young referees to prove themselves at such a tough tournament. My experience last year helped me improve and really tested my skills as a referee. I can’t wait to take charge of the future stars of world rugby in June.”
The nine referees will be supported by Assistant Referees, TMOs, timekeepers and other officials from the top levels of the RFU and WRU.