With the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the 40 matches that comprise the tournament’s pool stage.
Nigel Owens will have the honor of refereeing the opening match at Rugby World Cup 2019 as hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on 20 September, kicking-off a 44-day global celebration of rugby.
South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will mark a major milestone when he takes charge of Japan versus Samoa at the City of Toyota Stadium on 5 October. Should he referee all scheduled test matches prior to the match, he will make his 50th test appearance.
Luke Pearce, Mathieu Raynal, Ben O’Keeffe, Nic Berry, and Angus Gardner are making their Rugby World Cup debut with the whistle after impressive performances in the test arena, and each will take charge of the debut matches within the opening four days.
All match officials have been appointed to at least three pool matches and with matches taking place across 12 venues the length and breadth of Japan, the appointments reflect the need for optimal load management, including preparation, travel and recovery time.
The appointments were made by the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee comprising Chairman Anthony Buchanan (Council member), Joel Jutge (EPCR), Lyndon Bray (SANZAAR), Nick Mallett (former international coach and Rugby Committee Member) and Alain Rolland (World Rugby).
With significant strength in depth in international officiating, the team was selected on merit after a comprehensive review of performances and features an exciting and strong blend of experience and youth and follows a hugely productive match officials camp in Japan last week focusing on team culture, processes,
USA Pool match referee appointments:
USA vs England, Sept 26: Nic Berry (Australia)
USA vs France, Oct 2: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
USA vs Argentina, Oct 9: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
USA vs Tonga, Oct 13: Nigel Owens (Wales)
The appointments for the knock-out stages will be made after the pool stage. Match officials are not permitted to officiate matches involving their host nation in addition to being passage neutral.
“We are building strong momentum towards Rugby World Cup 2019, and I am delighted to say that there is a very strong team ethic across the match officials group, a superb culture and a determination to perform at their best at Asia’s first Rugby World Cup," said World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan.
Referees (12): Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England), Jérôme Garcès (France), Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France), Mathieu Raynal (France), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia) and Angus Gardner (Australia) – 457 tests as referees
Assistant referees (seven): Matthew Carley (England, reserve referee), Karl Dickson (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Shuhei Kubo (Japan) and Alex Ruiz (France) – 130 tests as assistant referees
TMOs (four): Graham Hughes (England), Rowan Kitt (England), Ben Skeen (New Zealand) and Marius Jonker (South Africa) – 217 tests as TMOs