The Gallagher Premiership returns this weekend after a record near-23 week layoff in between games. However, one familiar face who will be absent is Wayne Barnes, the referee of the classic 2019 tournament final between Saracens and Exeter. 


While the likes of Luke Pearce, Christophe Ridley, Tom Foley, Craig Maxwell-Keys, Matthew Carley and Karl Dickson have all made the cut to referee in round 14 of the Premiership, Barnes has been excluded after getting caught out by the UK government’s fluid situation regarding overseas travel protocols.

When Barnes headed away on holiday to Majorca a few weeks ago, there were no restrictions surrounding the return of British holidaymakers from Spain. 

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Gallagher Premiership referee JP Doyle guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

However, travel rules were changed the day after the official flew out, meaning he is now reportedly quarantining for 14 days after his return home. 

This stipulation has seen him miss out on selection for the opening weekend of the Gallagher Premiership’s return to action, and he will also be sidelined from the round 15 matches before becoming available to feature in round 16. 

With Barnes out of the loop, Pearce has been handed the whistle for Friday’s restart match, the meeting of Harlequins and Sale at The Stoop which will be the first game to be played in the Premiership in 159 days.  


Foley is in charge of Saturday’s fixture between league leaders Exeter and Leicester, with Carley on deck for the Bristol-Saracens match up, while former Harlequins scrum-half Dickson will be on duty at Franklin’s Gardens for Sunday’s only game.   


Friday, August 14 

Harlequins v Sale Sharks (Twickenham Stoop, 7:45pm)


Referee: Luke Pearce (98th Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson & Paul Dix. TMO: Rowan Kitt. Citing Officer: David Guyan.

Saturday, August 15 

Worcester Warriors v Gloucester Rugby (Sixways, 12:30pm)

Referee: Christophe Ridley (23rd Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Wayne Falla. TMO: Keith Lewis. Citing Officer: John Byett.

Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers (Sandy Park, 2pm)

Referee: Tom Foley (77th Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald & Jonathan Healy. TMO: Stuart Terheege. Citing Officer: Buster White.

Bath Rugby v London Irish (Recreation Ground, 3pm)

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (74th Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Robert Warburton & Phil Watters. TMO: David Grashoff. Citing Officer: Brian Campsall.

Bristol Bears v Saracens (Ashton Gate, 4:30pm)

Referee: Matthew Carley (93rd Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Jack Makepeace. TMO: Claire Hodnett. Citing Officer: Duncan Bell.

Sunday, August 16 

Northampton Saints v Wasps (Franklin’s Gardens, 3pm)

Referee: Karl Dickson (26th Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe AND Hamish Smales. TMO: Graham Hughes. Citing Officer: Danae Zamboulis.

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