South African Rugby Union (SARU) referee Craig Joubert will ‘kick off’ qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 when he takes charge of Mexico versus Jamaica in Mexico City on Saturday (15:30 local time).
Joubert – who refereed the 2011 Rugby World Cup final In Auckland – arrived in Mexico City on Wednesday to begin a programme of promotional activities and workshops. Saturday’s match will kick-off a journey that will see 80 Unions from six continents compete across 184 matches for the right to claim one of the eight places available via the qualification process for England 2015.
Joubert, who has refereed 33 Tests, said: "It is a great honour to have been selected for this opening Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification match. The Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport for players, coaches, fans and, of course, the match officials and I am looking forward to kicking off the road to England 2015."
A little under six months ago Joubert was taking charge of the biggest match of his career when New Zealand defeated France in a compelling Rugby World Cup 2011 Final. However, the 34-year-old says that his preparation will be no different to the build up to that epic match at Eden Park.
"I am really looking forward to the match. There will be no difference in the way that I approach it compared to say a Six Nations match, a Rugby World Cup match or indeed the Rugby World Cup Final."
"The preparation will be the same. I will meet with the two coaches, I will go through the same pre-match routine, I will concentrate on the same areas, aim for consistency and most of all enjoy it," added Joubert.
Ranked 71st in the IRB World Rankings and earmarked as a Union of great potential by the Game's governing body, the the Federación Mexicana de Rugby is making great strides on and off the field as interest in Rugby grows within a sports-mad country.
Keen to pass on his advice to local match officials, Joubert took time out of his busy schedule of preparation to visit a University match in Mexico City to meet with some of the country's best up and coming referees to run a skills workshop.
"I have been impressed with the sheer appetite and enthusiasm for Rugby here in Mexico. The match officials may not be full-time, but it was a privilege to spend time with the guys, who had taken time out of their jobs, to discuss refereeing, answer their questions and run a short technical session."
The match will be the biggest in the history of the Federación Mexicana de Rugby with a record crowd expected at the La Ibero Santa Fe, where the Webb Ellis Cup will be on display prior to kick-off.