Rugby World Cup: Referee Profiles

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is just a few months away and the officiating teams will be hard at work getting ready for the showpiece event. Darry Worthington takes a look at the match officials who will be in charge of the 48 games.

Love them or hate them, referees will have a big role to play come Japan 2019. We'll take a look at the 12 referees that will officiate at the World Cup, below.


Name: Nigel Owens
Age: 47
Country: Wales

The vastly experienced Welshman will officiate in his fourth World Cup having overseen games in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Owens is a top-notch ref who is popular among supporters and players alike mainly due to his no-nonsense style as well as his witty one-liners that leave fans in hysterics.

He's already officiated a World Cup final having been in charge of New Zealand versus Australia in 2015. He's likely to get the headline clashes again during this World Cup.

Name: Luke Pearce
Age: 31
Country: England

The young Englishman will make his World Cup debut out in Japan. Pearce refereed his first tier-one Test match last year which was between New Zealand and France. The 31-year-old came in for a lot of criticism during that game as a lot of commentators felt he was out of his depth with his decision to yellow card Frenchman Paul Gabrillagues seen as a knee jerk reaction.

Unlike Owens, Pearce is likely to get a handful of pool games and probably won't be used as a referee in the knock-out phases.

Name: Jerome Garces
Age: 45
Country: France

The first of a four-man French contingent. Garces, while being a very experienced referee, is still extremely error prone and punters should be wary when they see his name on a game day officiating list.

Garces, who had been an assistant referee at the 2011 World Cup, played a prominent role at the 2015 showpiece where he oversaw Japan's victory over South Africa and also reffed the semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa. He's likely to get another big knock-out game this year.

Name: Romain Poite
Age: 43
Country: France

Dubbed Inspector Clouseau by many a New Zealand rugby commentator, Romain Poite is one of the most controversial referees on the international circuit. The man has made some grave errors in the recent past with his horror call in the 2017 British and Irish Lions series decider still fresh in the memory of most rugby fans.

Poite is a vastly experienced World Cup 'ref having been involved in some capacity since the 2007 tournament. Despite his wealth of experience, he's not that good a referee and hopefully, he will be kept away from the big fixtures.

Name: Pascal Gauzere
Age: 42
Country: France

Another vastly experienced Frenchman, Gauzere will officiate in his second World Cup this year. He's one of the better French referees but he's hasn't been handed the high profile games his compatriots Romain Poite and Jerome Garces have. Gauzere is likely to do quite a bit of officiating in during the pool phase but is unlikely to get any high profile knock-out fixtures.

Name: Mathieu Raynal
Age: 37
Country: France

Raynal is the youngest of the French contingent but has been on the scene for just over a decade. While he's been decent at Test level, he is a controversial figure in France as his officiating in the Top 14 has come in for criticism.

The Frenchman actually spent a year on the sidelines in 2013 after he suffered a fractured jaw when he became trapped between two players in a Top 14 fixture.

This will be Raynal's World Cup debut and hopefully, he flies under the radar.

Name: Wayne Barnes
Age: 40
Country: England

Like Nigel Owens, this will be Wayne Barnes' fourth World Cup. The 40-year-old Englishman is one of the better referees appointed for the World Cup and his ability to talk to players makes him one of the more popular officials.

Barnes is likely to get some high profile games and could well officiate the final.

Name: Jaco Peyper
Age: 39
Country: South Africa

South Africa's only ref representative in Japan will be Jaco Peyper. The 39-year-old was in charge of this year's Super Rugby final between the Crusaders and Jaguares and put in a solid display with the whistle.

This will be Peyper's second World Cup with the South African having officiated at the 2015 event.

Name: Ben O'Keeffe
Age: 30
Country: New Zealand

The youngest of the referees at the event, O'Keeffe has shot up through the ranks in rapid time. Whilst O'Keeffe isn't very popular in Australia - Michael Cheika absolutely hates the bloke and even went as far as to call him a few nasty words during a clash between England and Australia in 2017 - he's a solid ref and deserves his spot on the panel.

This will be O'Keeffe's first World Cup and he's likely to get a handful of pool games, although, none of them are likely to feature Australia.

Name: Paul Williams
Age: 36
Country: New Zealand

Williams was a decent rugby player in his day playing for four of the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises before hanging up his boots and pursuing a referring career in 2012. He's one of the few refs who have a really good understanding of the game, and he tries to let it flow as much as possible.

This will be Williams' second World Cup and he could possibly get a quarter-final if he produces a few good displays with the whistle during the pool phase.

Name: Nic Berry
Age: 35
Country: Australia

Another former player who made the transition to referring, Berry is also a solid ref with a good understanding of the game.

Berry will make his World Cup debut this year and is likely to only oversee a few pool phase games.

Name: Angus Gardner
Age: 34
Country: Australia

The 2018 World Referee of the year, Angus Garner could well get a semi-final at the World Cup as he is a top-notch whistle blower.

Gardner has had a few controversial moments over the past ten or so months dishing out six red cards in a Super Rugby game earlier this year. He's also not a favourite amongst South African rugby supporters after he let Owen Farell get away with a no arms tackle when England beat South Africa last November.

The Australian openly admitted to making a few mistakes though and has been quick to address them. Hopefully, he has a solid World Cup as he is a really good young official.

Assistant Referees
Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Matthew Carley (England, reserve referee), Karl Dickson (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand) and Alexandre Ruiz (France).

Graham Hughes (England), Rowan Kitt (England), Ben Skeen (New Zealand) and Marius Jonker (South Africa).

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