World Rugby confirms its World Cup pool match referee schedule

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Jaco Peyper has been appointed referee for the blockbuster 2023 Rugby World Cup opener between host nation France and New Zealand on September 8. It is the second time the South African official has been honoured with an opening night duty as he also took charge of the England versus Fiji match at Twickenham which opened the 2015 World Cup.  

With just over two weeks to go before the latest finals begin, World Rugby have confirmed the match official appointments for all 40 pool matches in France and four referees – England trio Luke Pearce, Karl Dickson and Wayne Barnes along with French whistler Mathieu Raynal – have been given four games each.  

A highlight for Pearce is the September 9 Pool C opener featuring Australia versus Georgia at Stade de France, a standout on Dickson’s schedule is the October 6 Pool A clash of France versus Italy, while amongst Barnes’ duties will be the September 24 collision of Wales and Australia in Lyon.  

Raynal, meanwhile, has been given the appetising England versus Argentina fixture which kicks off Pool C on September 9 in Marseille. The appointments for the other three English pool matches are Georgian Nika Amashukeli versus Japan on September 17, Peyper versus Chile on September 23 in Lille, and Andrew Brace against Samoa back in Lille on October 7.  

One of the most eagerly anticipated pool matches is the September 23 Pool B meeting in Paris between South Africa, the defending world champions, and Ireland, the current No1-ranked side in the world. New Zealand’s Paul Williams has been appointed for this gargantuan fixture.  

Elsewhere in that pool, Angus Gardner will be on duty for South Africa versus Scotland in Marseille on September 10 with his fellow Australian Nic Berry pencilled in to referee the October 7 clash in Paris between the Scots and Ireland.     

A World Rugby statement read: “South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will referee the Rugby World Cup 2023 opening match between hosts France and New Zealand at Stade de France on September 8. Peyper is no stranger to opening matches, having refereed the England versus Fiji opener at Rugby World Cup 2015 at Twickenham.  

“He will also use a special whistle presented by adventurer Ron Rutland, who is cycling 21,000 kilometres from Auckland to Paris to deliver the whistle and raise money for ChildFund Rugby… England’s Luke Pearce will be in the middle for the final match of the pool stage, the Pool C meeting between Fiji and Portugal in Toulouse on October 8.  

“The appointments follow confirmation that the foul play review (bunker) process will operate at Rugby World Cup 2023 after positive initial trials. Teams and match officials enter Rugby World Cup 2023 having jointly agreed guiding principles for officiating. This will promote clarity and alignment.  

“In May, a team of Emirates match officials (12 referees, seven assistant referees and seven television match officials) were selected for the showcase event. The team represents nine nations and has more than 700 Test appearances between them. The selection was made on merit. 

Joel Jutge, World Rugby’s high performance 15s match official manager, said: “The journey to Rugby World Cup is never easy for match officials. There are fewer roles in sport 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. 

“We arrive at the pool phase having worked incredibly hard. We have a strong bond, a superb work ethic and an unwavering spirit. There is respect and understanding between the officials and the teams and we are now focused on playing our part in what promises to be a very special Rugby World Cup 2023.”

  • Click here to view the Rugby World Cup 2023 pool phase match official appointments 



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