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English referees get the green light to open and close the 2020 Six Nations

By Online Editors
Referee Wayne Barnes' most recent Test match was New Zealand versus Wales at the World Cup (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

England’s Luke Pearce will kick-off a new decade of Six Nations when he takes charge of champions Wales against Italy at the Principality Stadium on 1 February.


Veteran Welsh referee Nigel Owens will make his 98th Test appearance when he referees France versus England at Stade de France the next day, while the World Rugby referee award recipient, England’s Wayne Barnes, will take charge of France versus Ireland at the same venue on March 14, his 90th Test. 

The Six Nations match selections – the first since World Cup 2019 – includes a strong blend of experience and emerging international talent with 20 of the 21 match officials involved in Japan 2019 selected.

With World Cup final referee Jerome Garcès having announced his international retirement, Ireland’s Andrew Brace makes his Six Nations refereeing debut while England’s Matthew Carley returns as a referee. Both were assistant referees at Japan 2019.

Mike Adamson (Scotland), Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Frank Murphy (Ireland) and Ben Whitehouse (Wales) return to the squad as assistant referees, while James Leckie (Australia), Glenn Newman (New Zealand) and Brian MacNeice (Ireland) are included in an expanded television match official (TMO) panel after Ben Skeen announced his retirement.

(Continue reading below…)

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The appointments were made by the World Rugby match officials selection committee following a full review of performances at the recent World Cup and other elite competitions. World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Just like the teams, the preparation for France 2023 begins now for the match officials. 

“Our goal is continuous improvement, accuracy and consistency of decision-making and this selection represents the continuation of that journey with a selection that features a strong blend of huge experience and the best young talent.”


Alain Rolland, World Rugby 15s high performance match official manager, added: “There is a huge amount of excitement and motivation across the team as we head into the first Six Nations of the new decade. We have a strong team ethic, a superb group of match officials and we are excited about the young talent that is coming through the ranks from the under-20 Championship and elite club environment.

“Our goal is always clear, consistent and accurate decision-making and while there is no change in emphasis we will continue to build on what we achieved at World Cup 2019, working with the teams to ensure the best-possible experience for players and fans.”


Feb 1 – Wales v Italy (Luke Pearce, England)

Feb 1 – Ireland v Scotland (Mathieu Raynal, France)

Feb 2 – France v England (Nigel Owens, Wales)


Feb 8 – Ireland v Wales (Romain Poite, France)

Feb 8 – Scotland v England (Pascal Gauzere, France)


Feb 9 – France v Italy (Andrew Brace, Ireland)


Feb 22 – Italy v Scotland (Ben O’Keeffe, New Zealand)

Feb 22 – Wales v France (Matthew Carley, England)

Feb 23 – England v Ireland (Jaco Peyper, South Africa)


Mar 7 – Ireland v Italy (Nic Berry, Australia)

Mar 7 – England v Wales (Ben O’Keeffe, New Zealand)

Mar 8 – Scotland v France (Paul Williams, New Zealand)


Mar 14 – Wales v Scotland (Angus Gardner (Australia)

Mar 14 – Italy v England (Pascal Gauzere, France)

Mar 14 – France v Ireland (Wayne Barnes, England)

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