South Africa’s Craig Joubert, who was in charge of the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final, will referee the first Test under the scrum engagement trial sequence when he takes charge of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney on 17 August.
The International Rugby Board on Wednesday announced the names of the 12 referees for The Castle Rugby Championship. These appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee following a detailed review of recent performances during the June Tests.
Apart from Joubert, the other South African on the panel is Jaco Peyper. They will be joined by Chris Pollock (NZRU), Steve Walsh (ARU), Alain Rolland and George Clancy (both IRFU), Jerome Garces and Romain Poite (both FFR), Nigel Owens (WRU) and Wayne Barnes (RFU).
The Springboks’ six Tests will be refereed by Pollock (Argentina in Soweto, 17 August), Walsh (Argentina in Mendoza, 24 August), Rolland (Australia in Brisbane, 7 September), Poite (New Zealand in Auckland, 14 September), Garces (Australia in Cape Town, 28 September) and Owens (New Zealand in Johannesburg, 5 October).
Peyper was awared two Rugby Championship Tests – New Zealand v Australia in Wellington and Argentina v New Zealand in Buenos Aires. Joubert’s second appointment is the Bledisloe Cup Test between New Zealand and Australia in Dunedin on 19 October.
Lourens van der Merwe and Stuart Berry (assistant referees), as well as Deon van Blommestein and Shaun Veldsman (TMOs) will also be involved.
The new scrum engagement sequence of “crouch, bind, set” will be trialled during The Castle Lager Rugby Championship. This is aimed at enhancing player welfare and boosting scrum stability following a request from SANZAR. Referees will also be instructed to ensure that the scrum is static before the ball is put into the scrum and that the ball goes in straight.
IRB Match Official Selection Committee Chairman John Jeffrey said: “The match official selections have been made after careful consideration of performances during a busy June window and we continue to apply the best-for-best principle, while also keeping one eye on the future to ensure the best-possible panel for Rugby World Cup 2015.
“The selection for The Rugby Championship will also see our officials operate the new scrum engagement sequence trial which will also feature strict application of a stable platform before the ball enters the tunnel and a clear commitment to ensuring a straight feed. We are working in collaboration with the match officials and all our Unions to ensure that everyone is well prepared for the transition.
“As part of the selection system we continue to consult with coaches and teams and I would like to thank the Unions for their feedback, dedication and full support of the process.”
Apart from Jeffrey, the IRB Match Official Selection Committee comprises former elite referees Lyndon Bray (SANZAR), Tappe Henning (SANZAR), Donal Courtney (European Rugby Cup), Clayton Thomas (Six Nations) and IRB High Performance Match Officials Manager Joel Jutge.
The committee meets four times a year and makes selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed in advance of selection.