Romain Poite of France will take charge of the Springboks’ first 2017 Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixture on 19 August against Argentina in Port Elizabeth, World Rugby confirmed on Monday. South Africa travel to Argentina the following week for the return meeting between the sides in Salta, where Pascal Gauzere (France) will handle the whistle.
The Springboks’ remaining away matches, against Australia in Perth on 9 September and New Zealand a week later in Albany, will be officiated by Glen Jackson (NZ) and Nigel Owens (Wales) respectively.
The world governing body announced the match official appointments for the upcoming competition, with 18 officials and five TMOs taking charge of the 12 matches and the standalone Bledisloe Cup match in October. Jérôme Garcès will take charge of the opening match of this year’s competition when Australia host New Zealand on 19 August in Sydney.
In what is another important stage in the Rugby World Cup cycle for the further development of elite match officials, New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe will make his tournament debut when he referees South Africa and Australia at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on 30 September.
Frenchman Jerome Garces then takes charge of the whistle when the Springboks face the All Blacks in their final match to be played on 7 October at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. Meanwhile, South Africans Marius van der Westhuizen and Egon Seconds will also be on duty during the championship, which include several new assistant referees that have come into the elite squad after impressive performances over the recent months.
Jaco Peyper of South Africa will referee the match between Argentina and New Zealand on 30 September in Buenos Aires.
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “We’re working hard with Rugby World Cup 2019 in mind and The Rugby Championship gives us a further opportunity to review match officials under the pressure and intensity of international test match rugby.
“Along with officials that performed to the highest level during the Lions series and the June internationals, we now have new faces coming into the panel. Our ultimate goal is to arrive in Japan in 2019 with an established group of top-class, in-form officials with the necessary experience to perform at the highest level.
“Our focus continues to be clear and consistent decision-making and the highest standards of physical conditioning.”
According to World Rugby, the selection system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway. Every performance is closely scrutinised and reviewed to ensure accountability. In addition, there is regular consultation with coaches with their feedback helping to inform selection decisions.