It’s quarterfinal time at the Rugby World Cup so who will be in charge of the first of the knock out matches at the 2015 edition? The Spinoff Sports reveals the likely contenders for this weekend’s whistling action.
1. Wayne Barnes, England
Undoubtedly one of the world’s leading referees, though Barnes remains less than popular in some pockets of New Zealand thanks to the fact he was in charge in 2007 when the All Blacks last played the French in a RWC Quarterfinal. New Zealanders have never let it go, and neither has the All Blacks’ then-coach Sir Graham Henry.
Given the history here, World Rugby may think it wise for Barnes to skip a repeat in Cardiff this weekend, but he has no other conflicts, thanks to the home side being knocked out already.
2. Nigel Owens, Wales
Owens is a great performer. In fact, he does a lot of stage work away from the game so it is no surprise he understands the power of a well-timed line, such as the one he delivered to Scotland’s Stuart Hogg last week when the latter took a dive at St James’ Park against South Africa.
The jocular Welshman called out the simulating Hogg with a great reference to both the act and the venue (Newcastle United’s home ground) at which it was delivered.
”Dive like that again and you can come back here again in two weeks and play. Not today. Watch out!”
Owens will be unable to referee the Wales v South Africa clash.
3. Craig Joubert, South Africa
Joubert, unlike Barnes, never has to pay for a beer in New Zealand again after refereeing the 2011 RWC final at Eden Park, won by the All Blacks 8-7. His performance on that day was criticised by former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward.
Joubert is a momentum referee. He awards as many penalties as other referees but awards more than 60% of those to the attacking team.
Joubert refereed the Australia v Wales game on the weekend so it remains to be seen if he will get Australia again. He is also unable to referee the Wales v South Africa clash.
4. Romaine Poite, France
Frenchman Romaine Poite is officiating in his third RWC and is widely regarded as somewhat of a scrummaging fetishist. Unlike Joubert, Poite is more defensive-minded at the break down.
Japanese coach Eddie Jones has said that Poite will see who has dominance at the first scrum and favour that team for the rest of the match.
South Africans aren’t too fond of Poite after he oversaw the Springboks’ loss to Argentina in the The Rugby Championship earlier this year.
Romain Poite will be unable to referee the New Zealand v France quarterfinal.
If all four of these officials get the nod this weekend, here is what they can’t do:
Can referee any match. Has history with New Zealand and France which could be a consideration.
Can’t referee South Africa v Wales. Given Joubert and Barnes are both on different sides of the France v New Zealand equation, and Poite is unable to referee that match, Owens likely to referee the All Blacks quarterfinal.
Can’t referee South Africa v Wales. Did referee the Australia v Wales match at Twickenham on the weekend so that may be a consideration of appointment this week.
Can’t referee New Zealand v France. Refereed the England v Australia pool clash at Twickenham, and has recent history with South Africa.