World Rugby announced the squad of 23 match officials selected to take charge of the 48 matches at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, which runs from 20 September to 2 November.
‘Team 21’ – the 21st tournament team – comprises of 12 referees, seven assistant referees and four Television Match Officials (TMOs) representing nine nations. 'Team 21' has 804 Tests under its collective belt, as either referees, assistant referees or TMOs.
The 2019 RWC match officials are:
- Referees (12): Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England), Jérôme Garcès (France), Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France), Mathieu Raynal (France), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia) and Angus Gardner (Australia) – 457 Tests as referees;
- Assistant referees (seven): Matthew Carley (England, reserve referee), Karl Dickson (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Shuhei Kubo (Japan) and Alex Ruiz (France) – 130 Tests as assistant referees;
- TMOs (four): Graham Hughes (England), Rowan Kitt (England), Ben Skeen (New Zealand) and Marius Jonker (South Africa) – 217 Tests as TMOs.
This will be the second RWC tournament appearance for Peyper, who made his debut appearance at the 2015 edition in the United Kingdom. He recently became only the fourth referee in history to officiate in 100 Vodacom Super Rugby matches when he was in charge of the Trans-Tasman clash between the Crusaders and Brumbies in Christchurch.
Peyper has handled 46 Test matches already, including the series between the All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions in 2017. Last year he was named the Outsurance Referee of the Year for a third time. He refereed his fourth Currie Cup Final in Cape Town in 2018.
Jonker made his debut at first class level in 2003 and quickly rose to take charge of his first Test match in 2005. In all, he refereed in 24 Test matches – the last of them in 2011 and was also a member of the officials’ panel at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. Although he retired from refereeing in 2014, he continued to be part of the refereeing community as a TMO.
Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated Peyper and Jonker on their appointments.
“The Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle event of our sport and to have two of our officials on the refereeing panel is a very good achievement. They both deserve this and on behalf of South African rugby I want to congratulate Jaco and Marius on their inclusion, and wish them well for the tournament in Japan,” said Mr Alexander.
The match officials were selected by World Rugby’s Match Official Selection Committee following a comprehensive review of performances and fitness.
Anthony Buchanan, World Rugby’s Match Official Selection Committee Chairman, added: “The group selected for Rugby World Cup 2019 contains a strong mix of experience and proven young talent and we have every confidence that they will be well prepared and ready to perform at the highest possible level at Japan 2019.”
Meanwhile, two South African fans are making an extra special trip as they have embarked on a 20,000km ‘Race to Rugby World Cup’ from Twickenham to Tokyo in aid of World Rugby’s principal RWC 2019 charity partner, ChildFund Pass It Back, which is raising funds to provide life skills through rugby to more than 25,000 disadvantaged children across Asia.
The local pair of riders – Ron Rutland and James Owens – are carrying with them a commemorative whistle that will be handed to the referee of the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019, when hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on 20 September, 2019. For more information visit www.racetorwc.com.
For more information on Rugby World Cup 2019, visit www.rugbyworldcup.com.