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.
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.