World Rugby have announced the referees and match officials for The Rugby Championship 2017 which kick off on 19th August.
Jérôme Garcès will take charge of the first match when Australia host New Zealand with fellow Frenchman, the under fire Romain Poite heading to Port Elizabeth for South Africa v Argentina.
Eighteen officials plus five TMOs take charge of the 12 matches and the standalone Bledisloe Cup match through August, September and October. England’s Wayne Barnes takes charge of the Bledisloe this year.
As the Rugby World Cup cycle kicks in, the further development of elite match officials is evident as New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe makes his TRC debut when he referees South Africa and Australia at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on 30 September. Several new assistant referees – Nic Berry (Aus), Shuhei Kubo (Japan) and Egon Seconds and Marius van der Westhuizen (both SA) – have also come into the elite squad after impressive performances over the recent months.
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “We’re working hard with Rugby World Cup 2019 in mind and The Rugby Championship gives us a further opportunity to review match officials under the pressure and intensity of international test match rugby.
“Along with officials that performed to the highest level during the Lions series and the June internationals, we now have new faces coming into the panel. Our ultimate goal is to arrive in Japan in 2019 with an established group of top-class, in-form officials with the necessary experience to perform at the highest level.
“Our focus continues to be clear and consistent decision-making and the highest standards of physical conditioning.”
The selection system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway. In bringing through the likes of O’Keeffe, JP Doyle doesn’t feature in this round of appointments, nor does George Clancy.
Every performance is closely scrutinised and reviewed to ensure accountability. In addition, there is regular consultation with coaches with their feedback helping to inform selection decisions.
Full list here: The Rugby Championship 2017 Referee appts