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World Rugby reveals its World Cup pool match refereeing appointments

Nigel Owens will have the honour of refereeing the opening match at World Cup 2019 when hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on September 20, kicking off the 44-day tournament.

World Rugby has announced its refereeing appointments for the 40 pool matches and South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will mark a major milestone when he takes charge of Japan versus Samoa at the City of Toyota Stadium on October 5. Should he referee all scheduled Test matches prior to the game, he will make his 50th Test appearance. 

Luke Pearce, Mathieu Raynal, Ben O’Keeffe, Nic Berry and Angus Gardner are making their World Cup debut and each will take charge of their debut matches within the opening four days (view full appointments here). 

All match officials have been appointed to at least three pool matches and with matches taking place across 12 venues the length and breadth of Japan, the appointments reflect the need for optimal load management, including preparation, travel and recovery time.

The appointments were made by the World Rugby match officials selection committee comprising chairman Anthony Buchanan (World Rugby council member), Joel Jutge (EPCR), Lyndon Bray (SANZAAR), Nick Mallett (former international coach and rugby committee member) and Alain Rolland (World Rugby). The appointments for the knock-out stages will be made after the pool stage.

Buchanan said: “We’re building strong momentum towards World Cup 2019 and I’m delighted to say there is a very strong team ethic across the match officials group, a superb culture and a determination to perform at their best at Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.

“The announcement of the appointments for the pool stage is another major milestone on that journey. Each referee has at least three pool matches, and the selections have been made with optimal preparation in mind. 

“There is a great deal of excitement within the group and they are working extremely hard to ensure clear and consistent decision-making in all respects.” 

WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on the many adventures that fans experience in Japan at this year’s World Cup

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World Rugby reveals its World Cup pool match refereeing appointments