Referees named for Ireland’s rugby World Cup season

CHRIS WHITE, who was involved in the controversial conclusion to the Italy-Wales clash during this season’s Six Nations, will referee Ireland’s Rugby World Cup game against hosts France on September 21.

Welsh players were angered during that game when White blew for full time after James Hook kicked for touch, as they believed they had time for a line-out. The referee subsequently apologised to the Welsh for causing confusion about the amount of time remaining.

French official Joel Jutge handles Ireland’s opening game against Namibia on September 9 in Bordeaux, while Wayne Barnes of England will referee the game against Georgia on Saturday September 15. New Zealander Paul Honiss will take charge of the vital group game against Argentina on September 30 in Paris.

The appointments were made by the IRB’s Match Official Selection Committee, who met in Dublin last Monday and Tuesday to review performances of the Elite Referee Panel and make the selections for the World Cup.

Tony Spreadbury of England will kick-off the tournament when he takes charge of the opening fixture between hosts France and Argentina at the Stade de France.

In total, seven nations are represented within the panel: Alan Lewis and Alain Rolland are the Irish refereeing representatives, while Simon McDowell will be a touch judge at the tournament. Wayne Barnes and Marius Jonker of South Africa make their Rugby World Cup debut in France, while Stuart Dickinson, Paul Honiss, Jonathan Kaplan, Steve Walsh and Chris White will be attending their third World Cup.

IRB Referees Manager, Paddy O’Brien, speaking on the retirement of Ireland’s Donal Courtney from international refereeing, said he wished him well and that he was an excellent ambassador for the IRB and for international refereeing.

“It is a blow to lose an official of Donal’s considerable experience,” said O’Brien, “But we fully understand his reasons to stand down.”

Match officials have also been confirmed for Ireland’s Tests in Argentina: New Zealander Lyndon Bray referees the first game on May 26, while his countryman Kelvin Deaker takes charge a week later.

Tony Spreadbury will take charge of the Ireland-Scotland World Cup warm-up game on August 11, while Nigel Owens of Wales handles Ireland’s last game before the tournament, against Italy in Belfast on August 24.

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