From Rugby World editor, Paul Morgan
The British and Irish Lions tour is still four weeks away, but the Lions head honchos have already won part of the first battle, with the choice of referees.
The South Africans saw nothing wrong in appointing South Africans for all the matches, including the Tests…nice try!
But we now know that northern hemisphere referees will look after some of the provincial games and obviously the Tests will be refereed by neutral referees…one Frenchman, one Kiwi and one Aussie, which sounds like the start of a joke!
The Kiwi is Bryce Lawrence of New Zealand will take charge of the first Test in Durban on June 20. You may remember Lawrence was the one to spot Schalk Burger boring into the Waratahs loosehead when the Stormers played them in the Super 14. So Burger would be foolish to start that again.
The Frenchman is the excellent Christophe Berdos, who will take over a week later in Pretoria for the second Test, while Stuart Dickinson (who ruled out Mark Cueto’s ‘try’ in the World Cup final) of Australia for the third Test in Johannesburg on July 4.
“We met with the Lions and South Africa team management last month,” said IRB referee manager Paddy O’Brien. “All were in favour of the appointment of neutral match officials for the Test series. Bryce, Christophe and Stuart are all highly experienced members of the IRB’s high performance referee panel with nearly 80 internationals between them.”
The full list:
30-May Highveld XV v Lions Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Rustenburg. Ref: Marius Jonker (SA)
03-Jun Golden Lions v Lions Ellis Park, Johannesburg. Ref: Craig Joubert (SA)
06-Jun Free State Cheetahs v Lions Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein. Ref: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
10-Jun Sharks v Lions The ABSA Stadium, Durban. Ref: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)
13-Jun Western Province v Lions Newlands, Cape Town. Ref: Mark Lawrence (SA)
16-Jun Coastal XV v Lions Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth. Ref: Nigel Owens (Wales)
20-Jun South Africa v Lions (1st Test) The ABSA Stadium, Durban Ref; Bryce Lawrence (NZ)
23-Jun Emerging Springboks v Lions Newlands, Cape Town Allain Rolland (Irel)
27-Jun South Africa v Lions (2nd Test) Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Christophe Berdos (France)
04-Jul 15:00 South Africa v Lions (3rd Test) Ellis Park, Johannesburg. Ref: Stuart Dickinson (Aus)