Match officials appointed for 2011 RBS Six Nations
2 December 2010 14:20pm
Nigel Owens will take charge of his 26th Test when Scotland host Ireland in the RBS Six Nations
Top referee Nigel Owens will become Wales' second-most experienced international official when he takes charge of Scotland versus Ireland in the 2011 Six Nations.
The Murrayfield encounter on February 27 will be Owens' 26th Test as a referee, seeing him move into second-place behind runaway leader Derek Bevan who heads the list with 44 international appearances.
Alain Rolland will take charge of Wales' opening Six Nations clash with England in Cardiff on Friday, February 4, while fellow Irishman George Clancy, England's Wayne Barnes and the South African pair of Jonathan Kaplan and Craig Joubert will also take charge of games involving Wales.
The appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its meeting in Dublin this week following a comprehensive review of international referee, assistant referee and television match official performances during the recent November Tests.
With the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand less than 10 months away the appointments will give the world's top referees a further chance to cement their place in the IRB Panel for Rugby's global showcase tournament.
The selection also sees Steve Walsh take charge of his first Six Nations match since 2008 when he referees England versus France at Twickenham on February 26. In total there are 10 Referees selected for the 15 Championship matches.
"We are beginning the countdown towards Rugby World Cup 2011 and a streamlined panel of 10 top referees who will officiate at the tournament," said IRB Match Official Selection Committee Chairman and IRB Council Member David Pickering.
"However, there are still 10 months to go until the showcase tournament kicks off and there is plenty of time for places to be secured. We have worked hard on consistency across the board and referees and coaches have universally bought into the strict application of five key areas of Law."
"Collectively we are focused on further promoting consistency across all areas of officiating to ensure that those selected for Rugby World Cup 2011 are the best and that they will be in peak physical and performance condition for what promises to be a special tournament," added Pickering.
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference