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EPCR statement: South African named as Champions Cup final referee

By Liam Heagney
Referee Jaco Peyper speaks with England's Owen Farrell in March when he last refereed in Dublin (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

History will be made at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on May 20 when Jaco Peyper becomes the first South African to referee an EPCR final. The official last month made his debut in the tournament when he took charge of the recent semi-final in Bordeaux featuring La Rochelle, the defending champions, and Exeter.


Having since officiated at last weekend’s Stormers-Bulls URC quarter-final, he has now been appointed for the showpiece Champions Cup decider in Ireland that will be contested by La Rochelle and Leinster. It will be Peyper’s first appointment at Aviva Stadium since he red-carded England’s Freddie Steward at that venue during the Guinness Six Nations finale versus Ireland in March, a sending-off that was later rescinded.

The appointment of Peyer for this latest La Rochelle versus Leinster knockout stage fixture contrasts with previous encounters as English officials refereed the 2022 final in Marseille and the 2021 semi-final in La Rochelle.

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Wayne Barnes, who refereed last year’s Champions Cup final, has been appointed to take charge of the Challenge Cup decider featuring Glasgow Warriors and Toulon on May 19. Meanwhile, Matthew Carley, the 2021 La Rochelle-Leinster referee won’t be involved on finals weekend on this occasion.

A statement read: “South Africa’s Jaco Peyper and Wayne Barnes of England will referee this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals respectively following the announcement of the match officials for the showpiece games who have been appointed by a selection committee chaired by the EPCR head of match officials, Tony Spreadbury.


“Peyper will make history by becoming the first South African official to referee an EPCR final when he takes charge of the Heineken Champions Cup decider between Leinster Rugby and holders Stade Rochelais, at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday, May 20. His assistants will be the English duo, Karl Dickson and Christophe Ridley, with Tom Foley, also of England, as TMO and Beth Dickens (Scotland) as the match citing commissioner.

“The vastly experienced Barnes will be refereeing his sixth EPCR final following his appointment for the EPCR Challenge Cup clash of Glasgow Warriors v RC Toulon at the Aviva Stadium on Friday, May 19. He has previously taken charge of the 2012 and 2019 Challenge Cup deciding matches as well as three Heineken Champions Cup finals in 2010, 2018 and last season.


“Barnes will have Ireland’s Chris Busby and Craig Evans of Wales running the line with Ben Whitehouse (Wales) as TMO and Ciaran Scally (Ireland) as citing commissioner.

Glasgow Warriors v RC Toulon
Friday, May 19 – Aviva Stadium, Dublin (20.00 local time)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng); Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ire), Craig Evans (Wal); TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wal); Citing Commissioner: Ciaran Scally (Ire)

Leinster Rugby v Stade Rochelais
Saturday, May 20 – Aviva Stadium, Dublin (16.45 local time)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA); Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (Eng), Christophe Ridley (Eng); TMO: Tom Foley (Eng); Citing Commissioner: Beth Dickens (Sco)


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