European Professional Club Rugby and their head of match officials, Joel Jutge has announced the first two rounds of appointments to the 2016/17 Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup.
England’s Saracens will open their defence of Champions Cup title against RC Toulon at Stade Félix Mayol on Saturday, 15 October, and will be refereed by John Lacey of Ireland who takes charge of his 51st European fixture.
RFU Officials out in force
England’s officials are out in force with Luke Pearce taking charge of PRO12 champions, Connacht Rugby and Toulouse in Pool 2. Wayne Barnes will be in the middle for Champions Cup runners-up, Racing 92 v Munster Rugby on Sunday, 16 October. Matthew Carley takes on Leinster v Castre with JP Doyle looking after Bordeaux v Ulster. In the Challenge Cup, Craig Maxwell-Keys takes change of the Newport-Gwent Dargons v Brive, Tom Foley heads to Romania to whistle Timisoara v Edinburgh and finally Greg Garner takes on Treviso v La Rochelle.
Brace debut in Champions Cup
While Lacey leads the Irish contingent, George Clancy follows up with the Clermont Auvergne game at the home of Exeter Chiefs. Andrew Brace, left continues his career progression with his first Champions Cup game taking on Wasps v Zebre. In the Challenge Cup, David Wilkinson and Dudley Phillips take on Ospreys v Newcastle and Grenoble v Lyon respectively. Gary Conway finishes off the Irish whistlers with Bayonne v Gloucester game.
The WRU are represented by the ever-present Nigel Owens who takes part in his 105th European match; the high profile Northampton v Montpellier fixture in pool 4 of the Champions cup. Ben Whitehouse takes Quins v Stade Francais (a repeat of the 2011 Challenge Cup Final) and Ian Davies officiates Bath v Pau, both in the Challenge Cup.
The Italian Federation are represented by Marius Mitrea who travels to Russia to whistle the Enisei-STM v Worcester match.
Finally the French whistlers will be lead by Romain Poite who takes Scarlets v Sale, and Mathieu Raynal who is appointed to Glasgow v Leicester. Pascal Gauzere takes on Bristol v Cardiff Blues.
Round 1 Referee appointments by country:
- England – 7
- Ireland – 6
- Wales – 3
- France – 3
- Italy – 1
In week 2, the countries represented goes up to include Romania’s Vlad Iordachescu who takes charge of Enisei-STM v Newport Gwent Deagons with Scotland’s Lloyd Linton taking charge of Newcastle v Grenoble.
Appointments can be found in full here