Three South African referees, Craig Joubert, Jaco Peyper and Lourens van der Merwe, have been appointed to officiate during the November Tests.
Furthermore, the International Rugby Board (IRB) announced that the Springboks’ three Tests will be handled by Wayne Barnes of England (v Ireland in Dublin on November 10), Ireland’s George Clancy (v Scotland in Edinburgh on November 17) and the experienced Welshman Nigel Owens (v England in London on November 24).
All three of Barnes, Clancy and Owens have refereed the Springboks in Tests thus far in 2012.
Peyper has been handed two Tests. The first is between Romania and Japan in Bucharest on November 10 and two weeks later he will referee the match between Ireland and Argentina in Dublin (November 24).
Van der Merwe also got two Test appointments – first up he has Canada against Russia in Colwyn Bay, Wales on November 17 and a week later he will be in Florence, where Italy take on Australia.
Joubert has been appointed to referee the match between the winners of the Six Nations and The Castle Rugby Championship when Wales host New Zealand in Cardiff on November 24.
All three South African referees will also be used as assistant referees during the month.
“We are very proud to see South Africa continue our long standing tradition of producing top-class referees and I think these appointments prove this,” said Andre Watson, General Manager: Referees at the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
“Craig and Jaco recently did very well in The Castle Rugby Championship and Lourens is starting to make his mark on the international stage. I’m very happy to see them getting the recognition they deserve.” “It is good to see new SA referees on the IRB scene and proves that the succession planning and processes are paying off in replacing the legendary referees we have had serving the IRB in recent years.”
The IRB announced that these appointments followed a thorough review of performances during the June international window and the recently concluded Castle Rugby Championship by their Match Official Selection Committee, which is committed to promoting consistency in officiating.
Chairman of the selection committee John Jeffrey said: “With an unprecedented number of international matches being played over the next few weeks, it has given us the opportunity to appoint a number of up-and-coming referees to some exciting test matches.
“It is all part of ensuring that we have the best possible match official team available for Rugby World Cup 2015 while also providing the best referees for the highest-level matches.”
A key objective of the IRB’s Strategic Investment Programme is to increase the number of international fixtures for Tier Two Unions and this has been achieved through the comprehensive fixtures programme that has been implemented for this November and which will be replicated in future years.
Jeffrey added: “While the expanded international match programme places additional pressures on the match official appointments process, it also offers the selectors the opportunity to widen the opportunities for the high performance match official group. In considering the appointments, the committee took the view that the selection criteria should be based on a strategy of selecting the current high-level performers underpinned by a growth philosophy towards having the best match official team available for selection for RWC 2015.”
At its most recent meeting in Johannesburg last week, the panel reconfirmed its commitment to the “Big Five” key priorities:
• All aspects of the tackle with particular emphasis to be placed on the tackler releasing the tackled player and rolling away and arriving players staying on their feet.
• Offside at the breakdown.
• Offside from kicks.
• All aspects of the scrum, particularly the engagement process and front-row binding.
• All aspects of the maul, particularly what constitutes legal maul defences.
Sitting on the IRB Match Official Selection Committee were John Jeffrey (Chairman), Tappe Henning, Lyndon Bray (both SANZAR), Donal Courtney, Clayton Thomas (both Six Nations) and Joel Jutge (IRB Referee Manager). The panel meets four times per year with all performances reviewed as part of the next round of international selections.