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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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ruckaa 319 days ago

what is it about english male refs always find a way to be in contention for attention in big games and then they fuk it up because to busy adjusting the carrot up their arse instead of keeping the game flowing the best refs make rugby a breath taking roller coaster of athleticsim skill and desire to win from both contenders where as pommy refs get the same two teams and manage to ruin the game because they love standing ridgidley (carrot up arse 101) guarranteeing we will be focussed on them stopping the game again making our game look like crap , remember your aim is to be the enabler of a great spectacle Nigel Owens was a master these new guys want to be it Wayne Barns yep (C.U A 101) and he has had over a hundred geezus

Billy 438 days ago

Refs that teams will hope to avoid in playoff or big matches: Dickerson, Raynal, Berry and Carley. Dickerson make strange decisions and misses stuff. Raynal refuses to read the spirit of the game. Berry is overboard with the whistle. Carley is a hard-ass. Most teams will hope for Pearce, Peyper and Gardner. Barnes is great but there is something about his presence that seems to somehow take over. To seem as important to the game - he does not 'disappear' like a great ref should. Forward passes continue to be his blind spot. I think Pearce is the best ref in world rugby. Amashukeli cannot make quick decisions on foul play. I wonder how many of the trialled aspects of the game in SR Pacific will be adopted for the RWC?

Martin 439 days ago

How on God's good earth does Nic Berry make the cut?

Daniel 439 days ago

¿Hollie Davison? ¿Andrea Piardi?

Tjaart 439 days ago

Will past controversies play a role whether a referee will be appointed to referee specific nations? Will it be fair to them (the referees) to referee with these extra burdens?

Willie 440 days ago

Berry should have his whistle impounded.

isaac 440 days ago

Nice berry??? Really?

Bryan 440 days ago

I'm surprised Hollie Davison missed out. She was a key ref at the womens RWC last year and is better than a couple of the names above.

Scott 440 days ago

How did they choose Karl Dickson must be desperate not good enough

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