The International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for the Six Nations 2014, with four leading referees from the Southern Hemisphere among the elite panel.
South Africa supplies two referees to the group in Craig Joubert and Jaco Peyper, while Australia (Steve Walsh) and New Zealand (Chris Pollock) round out the senior group.
Joubert (Ireland v Scotland and England v Ireland) and Walsh (Italy v Scotland and France v Ireland) will oversee two matches.
Glen Jackson and Mike Fraser (NZ), Stuart Berry and Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina) will undertake assistant referee duties throughout the tournament.
Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during a busy November international window.
The Six Nations, which kicks off on February 1 and concludes on March 15, will see 11 referees take charge of 15 matches with Nigel Owens, Craig Joubert, Jerome Garces and Steve Walsh being appointed to two matches each.
Ireland’s John Lacey will referee the first game of the championship between Wales and Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, while Steve Walsh of Australia will take charge of the final match, which will be between France and Ireland in Paris.
The full list of referees, sponsored by Emirates, for the RBS Six Nations 2014 is: Pascal Gauzerre (FFR), Craig Joubert (SARU), John Lacey (IRFU), Chris Pollock (NZR), Jaco Peyper (SARU), Steve Walsh (ARU), Alain Rolland (IRFU), Jérôme Garces (FFR), Romain Poite (FFR), Nigel Owens (WRU) and Wayne Barnes (RFU).
IRB Match Official Selection Committee Chairman John Jeffrey said: “Before making these appointments, careful consideration has been given to every performance during what was an extremely busy November window. Our policy is to apply the best-for-best principle while also keeping one eye on the future to ensure the best-possible panel for Rugby World Cup 2015.”
“We continue to consult with coaches and teams in making our selection decisions. I’d like to thank the Unions for their commitment and full support to this official channel of feedback.”
“The IRB is committed to promoting the very best refereeing standards at the elite level of the Game. The continued priority is the promotion of consistency and performance.”
The selection system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
The IRB Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by John Jeffrey, comprises former elite referees Lyndon Bray (SANZAR), Andrew Cole (SANZAR), Donal Courtney (European Rugby Cup), Clayton Thomas (Six Nations) and IRB High Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge.
The committee meets four times a year and makes selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed in advance of selection.