Australia v New Zealand - Craig Joubert with Owens & Poite. Clancy is reserve AR & Veldsman as TMO
Allain Rolland was a fairly obvious and easy selection for us to predict for 2 reasons.
- His bilingual ability makes him an easy pick.
- The Referee of the preceeding final (2007 in this case) always gets a semi final in the next tournament*.
Craig Joubert was a very surprising appointment for us, mainly because a lot of our members believed that now South Africa were out he would be almost certain to be appointed to the final, however, history shows us that the Referee of the final has never refereed both a Qtr final and a semi final before hand. Will it change this year?
Lets look at the 10 Refs and their suitability and eligibility to referee the final.
- Wayne Barnes - Eligible & completely capable of being able to referee the final, and with England out would be a good choice, however may be a political nightmare for the iRB should New Zealand be in the final and lose. Even if it's not a referee issue, the majority would blame him. However, if New Zealand do not make the final, he may be a good choice due to his excellent communication skills.
- George Clancy - Eligible but unfortunately hasn't had the best of tournaments this year. I don't believe we will be seeing George in the middle again this tournament.
- Craig Joubert - Eligible & one of the best referees in the world at the moment, though has met some criticism of his scrum management. Well respected official, but as stated before, a final referee has never had a Qtr & Semi as well.
- Jonathan Kaplan - Eligible & the most experienced test referee of all time, is this his last hoorah? Dropped out of being AR1 at the New Zealand v Argentina game for unknown reasons, hopefully if it is an injury it won't keep him out. Are the powers that be lining him up for the final as it will be his last RWC?
- Bryce Lawrence - Ineligible if New Zealand make the final. Had not his best game in the Quarter Final with South Africa v Australia, seemed to miss a lot around the breakdown. I will admit to not being Bryce's biggest fan, I've tried to give benefit of the doubt, but I just can't. However it's clear that the iRB are more impressed with his refereeing than I am.
- Nigel Owens - Ineligible if Wales make the final. Has had a fantastic Rugby World Cup, was a little shaky in the South Africa v Samoa game, but nothing that cost Samoa the game as they would claim. Nigel seems to get really good productivity out of his team of 3 as well. If Wales don't make it, he's certainly a contender.
- Dave Pearson - Eligible. Dave has also had a very good Rugby World Cup, he has really seemed to enjoy himself out on the park, even with his bit of banter to Todd Clever of the USA. Unfortunately, he just not been as good as Barnes, Poite, Owens & Joubert.
- Roman Poite - Would be ineligible if France make the final. According to our members Roman is the best referee at this world cup. Disappointed not to have seen him referee a knock out stage game, his management of the Scrum, Tackle, Ruck & Maul areas is very good. Also had an amazing game in the European Cup Final this year. If France don't make it, I'd love to see Roman get it.
- Allain Rolland - Eligible & certainly has showed that he is still a world class referee. However, as he refereed the 2007 final, will he get it twice in a row and match Andre Watson's achievement. Almost certainly will be Allain's last Rugby World Cup and they could do a lot worse. Has probably been the strictest referee on the breakdown at this RWC.
- Steve Walsh - Ineligible. The only Referee that cannot be appointed to the final or 3rd place play off. Steve's Kiwi origins and now Australian residence mean he cannot referee either, and with one certain to make the final. That's Steve's time in the middle finished. This is quite a shame, Steve seems to referee a little like the French play, sometimes you can get a magnificent display that really embraces the way the two teams are playing, and other times you see a bit of a battle between him and the players. What is certain is that he has the ability. Good to see him back at the top level after his break from the game.
Wales v New Zealand - Roman Poite
Wales v Australia - Wayne Barnes
France v Australia - Wayne Barnes
France v New Zealand - Nigel Owens
Though never write Bryce Lawrence out of the appointments, fair play to the guy, he gets appointed to some great games.