IRB Nations Cup – the referees

(IRB.COM) Monday 15 June 2009
By Chris Thau
From Bucharest
 IRB Nations Cup – the referees
The match officials at the IRB Nations Cup 2009

RFU referee JP Doyle is making his IRB Nations Cup debut, with Canada's David Smortchevsky and Ireland's John Lacey awarded their second international match in round two of the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest.

Twenty-nine-year-old Doyle, a full-time referee with the RFU, will handle the match between Scotland A and Uruguay, 35-year-old Smortchevsky will referee the clash between Italy A and Russia, while 36-year-old Lacey has been given the "plum" fixture of the day between France A and hosts Romania.

The fourth referee in the tournament is 29-year-old Chris Draper of the United States, who handled the match between Russia and Scotland A on Friday. For the first time the four referees have been appointed and been allocated matches by the IRB Referees Selection panel in advance.

"In the past tournaments each of the participating teams provided touch judges. This is no longer the case at this year's tournament, with the assistant referees selected by the IRB, from the IRB panel of assistant referees," explained Tournament Referees Manager David McHugh of Ireland.

"The four tournament referees have been selected by the IRB selection panel and have been allocated matches over the three rounds in advance. This allows the referees greater preparation time for their games, but also enables them to work in a tournament environment, rather than one match at the time, which should really be beneficial."

Pre-match nerves

John Paul Doyle, a former scrum half with Terenure College in Dublin and St. Mary's club in Twickenham, admitted feeling quite nervous before Tuesday's match, though the former school teacher has substantial experience having refereed Under 20 Six Nations matches for about two years as well as Six Nations A matches.

Smorchevsky, who used to play full back for his club Capilano in Vancouver, has already made his Test debut with the RWC 2011 qualifier between Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago last October, while Lacey, a former Shannon and Munster full back, has been fast-tracked into the Irish panel since he happened to referee a match in Ireland under the eyes of McHugh.

Lacey, who started refereeing only two and a half years ago, has reached the Magners League, European Challenge Cup and Six Nations Under 20 level after only one year of Irish domestic rugby. Draper has reached the top after two significant stopovers, one at CAL University of California, Berkeley, where he worked with Tom Billups and Jack Clark, and the second at Glasgow University in Scotland, where he was selected into the Scottish panel and had the opportunity to work with Martin Hawthorne, Ken Robertson and indeed Jim Fleming. Scotland A v Russia was his first A international after two years on the IRB Sevens circuit.

"This tournament is an excellent launching pad for refereeing talent, not only for players. It is seen as a significant step in the development of future Test referees. Some of the referees who have officiated here in the past, Ireland's Peter Fitzgibbon and France's Romain Poite have this year been appointed to the IRB referees panel, with Carlo Damasco, Jerome Garces and Alan Falzone doing top class European games," added McHugh.

Referees appointments:

Scotland A v Uruguay
REF John Paul Doyle (RFU)
AR1 Stuart Terheege (RFU)
AR2 Horatiu Bargaunas (Romania)
No4 Gabriel Seitan (Romania)
No5 Robert Diaconescu (Romania)

Italy A v Russia
REF David Smortchevsky (Canada)
AR1 Chris Draper (USA)
AR2 Vlad Iordachescu (Romania)
No4 Gabriel Seitan (Romania)
No5 Robert Diaconescu (Romania)

France A v Romania
REF John Lacey (Ireland)
AR1 Giulio DeSantis (Italy)
AR2 Hugh Watkins (Wales)
No4 Gabriel Seitan (Romania)
No5 Robert Diaconescu (Romania)