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World Rugby names its 12 referees for Rugby World Cup 2023

By Liam Heagney
Referee Wayne Barnes at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A 12-strong experienced group of referees that includes centurion Wayne Barnes has been named by World Rugby to take charge of the 48 matches at the Rugby World Cup in France. Barnes is one of four Gallagher Premiership officials – along with Luke Pearce, Matthew Carley and Karl Dickson – named as a referee for the tournament that kicks off on September 8 with the host nation taking on the All Blacks in Paris.


The dozen referees selected have 453 Test matches between them, with eight having previously refereed at a Rugby World Cup. Australia (Nic Berry and Angus Gardner) and New Zealand (Ben O’Keeffe and Paul Williams) each provide two referees, with Georgia (Nika Amashukeli), Ireland (Andrew Brace), South Africa (Jaco Peyper) and France (Mathieu Raynal) having one representative apiece on the dozen-strong list of referees that will be supported in France by seven assistant referees and seven television match officials.

Joy Neville, one of the chosen TMOs, will make history in France as she will become the first woman to officiate at a men’s World Cup.

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Referees clearly explain the new rugby laws for 2023
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Referees clearly explain the new rugby laws for 2023

A statement read: “World Rugby has confirmed the team of match officials who have been selected for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France later this year. A total of 26 Emirates match officials representing nine nations with more than 630 test appearances between them will take charge of the 48 tournament matches. The selection has been made on merit.

“In an experienced referee group, Wayne Barnes (England), holder of the most Test appearances (102), will officiate in a fifth-straight Rugby World Cup in the country in which he debuted in 2007. Meanwhile, Nika Amashukeli will make history as the first Georgian to officiate at a Rugby World Cup.


“Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee Joy Neville (Ireland) becomes the first woman to officiate at a men’s Rugby World Cup, taking her place as TMO. Fellow TMO Ben Whitehouse (Wales) will follow in the footsteps of his father Nigel, who was an assistant referee and TMO at RWC 2003. The appointments for the pool phase will be announced after the completion of The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup preparation matches.”

Graham Mourie, the chairman of the match officials selection committee, said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the 26 match officials selected for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. Like the players, they have earned their place on merit and have worked incredibly hard, making many sacrifices to be in contention for selection. I would like to put on record our thanks to them and those who just missed out. It speaks volumes about this group that, like every great team, they have all encouraged each other along the way.


“These men and women are not only representing their nations, they are also representing the global officiating fraternity and truly are ‘everyone’s team’, playing their full part in enabling players to perform to their best at our pinnacle men’s event and we should all get behind them.”

Joel Jutge, the World Rugby high performance 15s match official manager, added: “The journey to Rugby World Cup 2023 is not an easy one for match officials. There are fewer roles with as much public scrutiny, but I am proud of how the team has responded to the ups and downs, always being open and acting with integrity.

“Selection is one milestone, and we have a lot of work to do before the start of the tournament with warm-up matches and The Rugby Championship. But this team has a great work ethic, an unwavering spirit, and a great bond and we will all benefit from increased time together as we prepare for what will be a very special Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”

Rugby World Cup 2023 Match Officials
Referees (12): Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Wayne Barnes (England), Nic Berry (Australia), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England), Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Mathieu Raynal (France), Paul Williams (New Zealand).


Assistant Referees (7): Chris Busby (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France), James Doleman (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales), Andrea Piardi (Italy), Christophe Ridley (England), Jordan Way (Australia).

Television Match Officials (7): Brett Cronan (Australia), Tom Foley (England), Marius Jonker (South Africa), Brian MacNeice (Ireland), Joy Neville (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Ben Whitehouse (Wales).


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