Rugby World Cup 2011 final referee Craig Joubert is to retire from 15-a-side refereeing to take up the role of Referee Talent Development Coach at World Rugby.
Joubert, 39, refereed 69 test matches since his debut in 2003 and is also an experienced sevens match official having refereed on the sevens series circuit and at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
He will report to Paddy O’Brien (for 7s) and Alain Rolland (15s), respectively, in a new role to help identify and develop the next crop of top men’s and women’s referees. He will be a crucial link between unions’ own referee development and World Rugby, to ensure the alignment of strategies and programmes, enabling talented and dedicated match officials to realise their full potential at the highest levels of the game.
He will continue to referee in the seven game, joining High Performance Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien’s team to assist with the identification areas of improvement. He’ll provide specialised and individual coaching to the referees both during the series tournaments and in the weeks between them, providing follow-up coaching with the individuals and union coaches in the weeks between tournaments.
Speaking after the announcement, Joubert said, “This was not a decision I took lightly given the obvious lure of possibly refereeing the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next year as well as the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
“However, the opportunity to make a difference in other peoples’ careers and lives is something which I’m excited about. It really is a dream job. Over the past few years I have taken Rasta Rasivhenge under my wing and have mentored and coached him and it has been enormously rewarding to see him grow as a person and as a referee.
“This position gives me the opportunity to play a more formal role in sharing my experiences and developing referees and to have a positive influence on the lives and careers of other young referees.”
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said, “I would like to thank Craig for his dedication and service throughout a wonderful refereeing career. He has been a world-class referee for many years now and has officiated at the very highest levels of the game in both 15s and sevens. It has been a pleasure to work with him during his active refereeing career and I have no doubt he will continue to contribute to the game in his new position. I expect his vast experience and his extensive knowledge of the game will be a huge asset to us as we continue to develop the world’s top match officials.”