The road to Rugby World Cup 2015 for the next generation of elite referees will begin in earnest in June after the IRB announced a strong match official panel for the IRB Junior World Championship 2012.
The premier age grade event for the world's best Under 20 players will take on an important preparation role for referees who are on the verge of elite panel selection.
Four members of the elite referee panel announced last week have previously overseen JWC matches, including talented South African Jaco Peyper who took charge of a pulsating final last year between New Zealand and England.
“This selection underscores the IRB's commitment to ensuring that best-possible preparation for our most talented up and coming elite and potential elite referees as we build over the four-year cycle to Rugby World Cup 2015 in England,” said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien.
“The JWC is the perfect environment for up and coming referees to learn from each other as a group, focus on continual coaching, assessment and mentoring to ensure the best-possible standards of consistency and performance. I would envisage that most referees selected for Rugby Cup World 2015 would have cut their teeth at the IRB Junior World Championship.”
The class of 2012 looking to follow in the footsteps of June 2012 elite panel members Jérôme Garces, Chris Pollock and Romain Poite include officials from England, New Zealand, Wales, France, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
Greg Garner (RFU), Leighton Hodges (WRU), Mathieu Raynal (FFR), JP Doyle (RFU) and Francisco Pastrana (UAR) all return to the panel having taken charge of matches at JWC 2011 in Italy, while Glen Jackson (NZRU), Angus Gardner (ARU) and Lourens van der Merwe (SARU) will make their tournament debuts.
VIEW THE JWC 2012 MATCH SCHEDULE >>
More than 110 players have represented their countries at the IRB Junior World Championship and gone on to play on the Test stage with notable graduates including South Africa’s Patrick Lambie, New Zealand’s RWC 2011 winners Aaron Cruden, Zac Guildford and Sam Whitelock, Australia’s David Pocock and Will Genia, England’s Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs and the youngest ever RWC captain, Sam Warburton of Wales all starting their international careers in the JWC. Forty-nine of these graduates played at Rugby World Cup 2011.