Nigel Owens keeping watch over England v Australia during the Cook Cup

The International Rugby Board has announced the group of match officials who will take charge of the Rugby World Cup 2011 knockout matches.

As announced in April, a panel of 10 Referees and two specialist Television Match Officials (TMO) have been selected from the panel of 21 officials for the showcase matches which kick-off with the quarter-finals in Auckland and Wellington this weekend.

The appointments were made by the IRB’s Match Official Selection Committee in Auckland on Sunday following a thorough review of performances across the 40 Pool phase matches.

Wayne Barnes (England), George Clancy (Ireland), Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Nigel Owens (Wales, above), Dave Pearson (England), Romain Poite (France), Alain Rolland (Ireland) and Steve Walsh (Australia) will perform Referee and Assistant Referee duties. Giulio De Santis (Italy) and Shaun Veldsman (South Africa) have been selected as the two specialist TMOs.

Joubert will kick-off the quarter-final action when he takes charge of Wales v Ireland in Wellington on Saturday at 18:00, while Walsh will officiate England v France in Auckland at 20:30. The following day will see Lawrence referee South Africa v Australia in Wellington at 18:00 and Owens take charge of the New Zealand v Argentina match at 20:30.

IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said: “Our focus has been firmly on consistency, penalising the clear and obvious and tackling the ‘big five’ areas. The extensive performance review of all 40 matches included coach, match official and performance reviewer feedback and we are very happy with the way that the group has worked together to collectively achieve the goals set.”

“Accuracy in decision making is our top priority. We will continue to work as a unit to achieve the high standards that have collectively been set and maintain a zero-tolerance attitude towards infringements across the key areas of the Game. In that regard, I would also like to thank the coaches for their buy-in to the process during this Tournament.”

IRB Match Official Selection Committee Chairman David Pickering added: “This was a very tough selection process. The overall standard in performance has been exceptional and the team has achieved all that has been asked of them, and while it is inevitable that there are those who are unlucky to miss out on selection, I would like to thank all the Referees, Assistant Referees and Television Match Officials for their hard work, commitment and professionalism. They can be proud of playing their full part in contributing to what has been an exceptional Rugby World Cup.”

Appointments for the Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-finals will be announced on Monday, October 10.