World Rugby International Referees Panel

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The World Rugby International Referees Panel is a panel of elite rugby union referees appointed by the sports governing body, World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board) to officiate in international matches, usually those involving the national teams of high-performance unions from across the globe, as named by World Rugby.

The panel was established to ensure that matches between the best international teams are handled by the best referees. World Rugby appoints a neutral 4-person team (referee, 2 assistant referees, TMO) to each match in the international windows, as well as to the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship.

All the referees on the International panel, have progressed through refereeing ranks in their domestic leagues, before developing skills further on the Sevens World Series panel, and in World Rugby Under 20 competitions, as well as gaining experience in multinational club competitions such as the European Rugby Champions Cup and Super Rugby,.[1]

Regarded as the best in the world, referees on the panel are employed by their home unions and World Rugby, and have strict standards that they must adhere to.


Appointments are made four times a year, prior to the June and November international test windows, the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.

Appointments are made by a panel of the elite referee managers from Six Nations and SANZAR sponsored competitions, and are based on a referees performance in both recent international and club matches. Referees can be called up to and dropped from the panel in between series', meaning that the best referees are appointed to the panel for each period.

The World Rugby Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by John Jeffrey, comprises former elite referees Lyndon Bray (SANZAR), Andrew Cole (SANZAR), Donal Courtney (European Professional Club Rugby), Clayton Thomas (Six Nations) and World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge.

Sponsorship and Kit Supply[edit]

The panel is sponsored by Emirates Airlines, and their Fly Emirates branding appears on the referees shirts for all test matches. Starting in 2015, this sponsorship will also extend to the Rugby World Cup, marking the first time a sponsor has appeared on a players or officials shirt while on the field of play.

The panels kit is supplied by Canterbury, the kit consists of blue socks, blue shorts and a choice of four shirts - blue, orange, white and black. The choice of shirts is in place to avoid a colour clash with any of the teams during a game. Some officials also have their own sponsorships, for other equipment such as boots.

Current members[edit]

The current members of the elite panel[2] are referees highly regarded by World Rugby and their referee selectors. Four of the referees come from South Africa, the most from any country. England, France, Ireland and New Zealand each have three. Australia has two and Wales has one.[3]

The current panel are in alphabetical order, not ranking wise.[3]

South Africa's Craig Joubert refereed the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final in New Zealand.

Referee Selectors and assessors[edit]

The referee selectors and coaches are each appointed by World Rugby.

Referee Selectors[edit]


A lot of the referee assessors are former referees. These assessors simply judge the referees performance, they do not select them. All reports are forwarded to the selectors.

Former Members of the Elite Panel[edit]

2007 Rugby World Cup[edit]

The 2007 referees for the Rugby World Cup were based on merit. The IRB consisting of the selectors and Paddy O'Brien selected 12 referees to referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They also picked a panel of assistant referees and TMO's. Many of the referees who have refereed at this world cup have now retired.

The 2007 Rugby World Cup Referees

2011 Rugby World Cup[edit]

The 2011 referees for the Rugby World Cup were also based on merit, judged on the previous 4 years. The IRB consisting of the selectors and Paddy O'Brien selected 10 referees to referee at the 2011 Rugby World Cup: fewer than ever. This was to give match officials more game time during the tournament, and help the selectors to pick the best officials for the knockout stage.

Mark Lawrence and Alan Lewis were both overlooked for this tournament, Lawrence unlucky to be overlooked for successive tournaments.[12]

The 2011 Rugby World Cup Referees

The 2011 Rugby World Cup Assistant Referees

  • Jérôme Garcès (France) - reserve referee
  • Chris Pollock (New Zealand) - reserve referee
  • Carlo Damasco (Italy)
  • Tim Hayes (Wales)
  • Simon McDowell (Ireland)
  • Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
  • Stuart Terheege (England)

The 2011 Rugby World Cup TMO Panel

  • Giulio De Santis (Italy)
  • Matt Goddard (Australia)
  • Graham Hughes (England)
  • Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

2019 Rugby World Cup Referees[edit]

  • Wayne Barnes (England)
  • Luke Pearce (England)
  • Jérôme Garcès (France)
  • Romain Poite (France)
  • Pascal Gauzere (France)
  • Mathieu Raynal (France)
  • Nigel Owens (Wales)
  • Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
  • Ben O'Keeffe (New Zelaand)
  • Paul Williams (New Zealand)
  • Nic Berry (Australia)
  • Angus Gardner (Australia)
  • Matthew Carley (England)
  • Karl Dickson (England)
  • Andrew Brace (Ireland)
  • Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
  • Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
  • Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
  • Alexandre Ruiz (France)
  • Graham Hughes (England)
  • Rowan Kitt (England)
  • Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
  • Marius Jonker (South Africa)[13]


  1. ^
  2. ^ IRB referees panel
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Matt Goddard retires
  8. ^ Joel Jutge retires
  9. ^ Alan Lewis Announces Retirement From Refereeing
  10. ^ "IRB announces match official appointments". 1 April 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  11. ^ Nigel Whitehouse retires
  12. ^ RWC 2011 Match Officials
  13. ^

External links[edit]