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'Fantastic' Barnes set to overtake Owens' Test referee record

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

England referee Wayne Barnes is set to make history when he takes charge of his 100th and 101st Test matches during the upcoming November international window. The 43-year-old, who made his debut in Fiji in June 2006, will become only the second referee to reach a century of Test games after Nigel Owens when he takes charge of Wales versus New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on November 5.


Englishman Barnes will then set an outright record of 101 Test matches when he referees the game between Six Nations Grand Slam winners France and reigning world champions South Africa in Paris a week later on November 12.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Congratulations to Wayne on his selection and pending record. To be so good for so long as a referee is no easy feat. Wayne Barnes, like Nigel Owens before him, reaches 100 Tests by being not just a fantastic referee, but a great team player, a student of the game and someone who is greatly respected by players, coaches and fans alike.”

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In total, 23 match officials representing ten nations will take charge of the 37 November Test games announced so far. The Emirates World Rugby match official appointments, made by World Rugby’s match official selection committee, marks another important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France and these latest appointments also include the RWC 2023 final qualification tournament in Dubai where the 20th team will be confirmed for next year’s tournament.

Georgia’s Nika Amashukeli takes charge of the first Test of the window – Japan versus New Zealand on October 29 – and Australia’s Angus Gardner the last with England versus South Africa on November 26. South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will referee two matches in November, bringing up 60 Tests with Ireland versus Fiji on November 12. Luke Pearce takes charge of Scotland versus Australia on October 29, his 40th Test as a referee.

Six different referees will officiate matches in the final qualification tournament. Tual Trainini (France) will referee the opening match – USA versus Kenya – on November 6 and Paul Williams (New Zealand) will take charge of the final one, USA versus Portugal on November 18. Christophe Ridley (England) will referee his first test involving a Six Nations team with Italy versus Samoa on November 5. Meanwhile, Andrea Piardi (Italy) also referees a Six Nations team for the first time with his appointment for Wales versus Georgia on November 19.


World Rugby selection committee chairman Graham Mourie added: “I would like to echo Bill Beaumont’s congratulations regarding Wayne’s impending milestone. Wayne is a role model, a leader and an outstanding match official, he thoroughly deserves what will be a fine record.

“As we move towards next year’s Rugby World Cup, as a group we are constantly challenging ourselves to be better, to achieve greater consistency and clarity of decision-making. There is a great work ethic within the team, and we will continue to ensure that safety, speed and space are our priority.”

  • Click here to view appointments for the November Test window. 
  • Click here to view appointments for the RWC 2023 final qualification tournament in Dubai.


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RUGBYPASS+ Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam