Rugby is a game where not only is the team sheet closely looked at prior to kick off, but also who will be in control in the centre of the pitch. I am therefore excited to see World Rugby has announced the squad of 23 match officials selected to take charge of the 48 matches at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
The group of officials comprises of 12 referees, seven assistant referees and four Television Match Officials (TMOs) representing nine nations (just 4?)
The group has a blend of experience and youth, with particular fan favorites Wayne Barnes, Nigel Owens (probably his last World Cup) and Romain Poite included in the squad.
Referees : 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
I am really excited as a Quins fan to see Karl Dickson has made it into the assistant refs stable. What am amazing achievement for this player-turned-ref!
Assistant referees : 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 : Graham Hughes (England), Rowan Kitt (England), Ben Skeen (New Zealand) and Marius Jonker (South Africa) – 217 tests as TMOs
Personally I hope to see Owen’s make the final…the perfect swansong for possibly the best official ever to grace the field of any sport.