The Australian Rugby Union today officially unveiled the new 2012 referees’ uniforms ahead of the opening round of the FxPro Super Rugby competition.  The re-styled uniforms feature a bold new colour combination of orange and grey, moving away from the predominantly green uniforms of 2011.

ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, said the new colours pay homage to the strong commercial partnership between Australian Rugby Union and the official 2012 referees’ sponsor, TNT Express. 

“TNT Express has been associated with the Super Rugby competition since 2005 and last year became the official ARU referees’ sponsor until at least 2013,” Mr O’Neill said.

“This uniform change, which strongly incorporates TNT corporate colours, demonstrates ARU’s commitment to TNT’s partnership. “Having TNT’s continued support for our FxPro Super Rugby referees in Australia is fantastic for our referees and great news for the game as we continue to grow Rugby in Australia and around the world.”

The new uniform, which is manufactured by Australian sportswear brand, and ARU partner KooGa, is produced from the same lightweight sports mesh polyester fabric the players wear.  The new look uniforms will be on show from this weekend, the first round of the FxPro Super Rugby competition, when the University of Canberra Brumbies take on the Emirates Western Force in Canberra on Friday evening and the HSBC Waratahs face off against the St.George Queensland Reds at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. 

While all the FxPro Super Rugby sides have been training hard in preparation for kick-off so too have the Australian referee squad. From December the Australia referees have been in pre-season training with a focus on strength and conditioning, while a training camp held in January focussed on the psychological aspects of a referee’s game.  Actors were hired to assist with role playing exercises, aimed to further enhance the referees’ abilities to operate in high-pressure situations. 

The unveiling of the new-look Australian referees coincided with the release of further details about changes to the disciplinary process, which will come into operation when the FxPro Super Rugby tournament kicks off later this week. 

SANZAR Game Manager, Lyndon Bray, said one major change to the disciplinary process includes the introduction of a white card, which will facilitate on-field referee referral to the Citing Commissioner.

“The white card will be helpful in instances where a referee thinks an act of foul play has occurred but is not sure if a red card is warranted, or is unsure of the identity of a player,” Mr Bray said. 

“It will also help get to the bottom of instances where a player makes a complaint to a referee who did not see an incident."