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Referee Angus Gardner has withdrawn from the South Africa vs Ireland series

By Ian Cameron
Angus Gardner and Rhys Ruddock

Australian official Angus Gardner has withdrawn from refereeing duties during the South Africa versus Ireland series for ‘personal reasons’.


He will be replaced by England’s Luke Pearce as match day referee for the first Test at Loftus Versfeld on July 6th and as AR for the second Test at the Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban the following weekend.

A World Rugby statement on the matter reads: “World Rugby has confirmed that Angus Gardner (Australia) has withdrawn from officiating duties for the two-test series between South Africa and Ireland for personal reasons. The Australian will be replaced by Luke Pearce (England) as referee for the first test and also as assistant referee for the second test.

Video Spacer

A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

Video Spacer

A bitterly disappointed Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White produces a few post-match pearlers

“As a consequence of the change, there are also further amendments to the appointments, including Christophe Ridley (England), replacing Pearce as assistant referee for Japan v Georgia on 13 July.”

Gardner began officiating in Super Rugby in 2012. Gardner made his Test debut in 2011, officiating a match between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. He has since refereed numerous international matches, including fixtures in the Rugby Championship and Six Nations. Gardner was named World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2018. He has officiated at three Rugby World Cups, in 2015, 2019 and 2023.


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Bull Shark 21 days ago

Do we know what his “personal reasons” are or are we going to leave it to the tinfoil hat, conspiracy theorists, in the peanut gallery to have a field day with this?

Sebastien 22 days ago

Another victim of Erasmus and stupid sa fans. Shame on World Rugby to not protect the refs.

Dan 23 days ago

Gardner is a terrible ref - as most or the SH ones clearly have no clue about the sport. Much like the SH players

Rassie has to hope Barnes comes back though. Let his iferrior team triumph again with Wayne’s incompetence at the forefront.

Mal 23 days ago

Nick Berry would have been a perfect replacement 👌

Michael 23 days ago

Angus Gardener is , in my opinion, easily the best of R.U refs currently officiating. He is positive, explains his decisions ,& rarely exercises the use of cards , however uses the 3rd umpire judiciously, to ensure fairness on the field of play . He is not overbearing , or as some comment herein , displaying himself as some Greek God , like some esteemed whistle blowers do ..

Flankly 24 days ago

It is utterly amazing that WR would have proposed Gardner as a ref and AR for these games. And it is very wise for Gardner to decline. He would want to avoid the re-litigation of the allegations in the Rassie tape.

Luke Pearce is the guy with the decisive “I am in charge” brand. My sense is that he struggles to avoid his preconceptions of the teams.

Barry 24 days ago

Rassie dassie has a video up on YouTube!?

Willie 24 days ago

Based on his last performance in super rugby, Angus seems to think the crowd turns up to watch him. He should take the opportunity to re-evaluate the role of a referee.
Luke Pearce is a good replacement, especially in SA.

mjp89 25 days ago

I wouldn't want to referee a South Africa game that they have a chance of losing, either.

Andrew 25 days ago

Doesn't want a PK from supporters if pulls a Nic Berry, lol.

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finn 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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