Six Nations is Bryce-less

By Styli Charalambous 2 November 2011

The IRB has named the officials in charge for the upcoming Six Nations Championship, and a certain New Zealander’s name is nowhere to be seen. By STYLI CHARALAMBOUS.

The appointments for the Northern Hemisphere tournament were made by the IRB Referees Selection Committee, following a thorough review of World Cup and major test match performances. And to nobody’s surprise, Bryce Lawrence, he of South Africa’s quarterfinal calamity fame, was not selected to officiate in any matches.

Lawrence, a member of the Rugby World Cup 2011 match official team, has been “rested” following a busy year of international and domestic fixtures, and is expected to return for the June 2012 tests. Code-speak for “You royally messed up, mate. Take a break.”

The IRB has done itself no favours by attempting to hide their dissatisfaction of Lawrence’s shocker under the guise of resting. This sleight-of-hand move is fooling no one and only goes to reiterate the spineless lack of leadership within the IRB’s officiating circles. Pray tell, how exactly does a referee need resting?

Welshman Nigel Owens will get the competition underway when he officiates France against Italy at the Stade de France. England’s Wayne Barnes will complete the opening weekend of fixtures when he officiates Ireland versus Wales.

Chris Pollock, a reserve referee at Rugby World Cup 2011, will make his Six Nations refereeing debut when he takes charge of Ireland against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on 10 March. Pollock refereed his first Tri Nations match earlier in the year when he took charge of Australia against South Africa.

RWC 2011 final referee, Craig Joubert, has been given charge of two matches: Ireland versus Italy at the Aviva Stadium on 25 February and Wales against France at the Millennium Stadium on 17 March.

“We have made the appointments immediately after Rugby World Cup 2011 so match officials have the best possible preparation period ahead of the RBS Six Nations, after what has been a physically demanding year of Test Rugby,” said referees manager Paddy O’Brien.

“I was really impressed by the overall performance during Rugby World Cup 2011, but our focus will remain firmly on consistency, penalising the clear and the obvious, and tackling the ‘big five’ areas.”

Clearly, O’Brien wore his rose-tinted glasses throughout the tournament or didn’t watch the same World Cup we did. DM

Six Nations schedule
(All Matches GMT)

4 Feb at 2.30pm – France v Italy at Stade de France
Referee: Nigel Owens

4 Feb at 5pm – Scotland v England at Murrayfield
Referee: George Clancy

5 Feb at 3pm – Ireland v Wales at Aviva Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes

11 Feb at 4pm – Italy v England at Stadio Olimpico
Referee: Jerome Garces

11 Feb at 8pm – France v Ireland at Stade de France
Referee: Dave Pearson

12 Feb at 3pm – Wales v Scotland at Millennium Stadium
Referee: Romain Poite

25 Feb at 1.30pm – Ireland v Italy at Aviva Stadium
Referee: Craig Joubert

25 Feb at 4pm – England v Wales at Twickenham
Referee: Steve Walsh

26 Feb at 3pm – Scotland v France at Murrayfield
Referee: Wayne Barnes

10 Mar at 2.30pm – Wales v Italy at Millennium Stadium
Referee: George Clancy

10 Mar at 5pm- Ireland v Scotland at Aviva Stadium
Referee: Chris Pollock

11 Mar at 3pm – France v England at Stade de France
Referee: Alain Rolland

17 Mar at 12:30pm – Italy v Scotland at Stadio Olimpico
Referee: Alain Rolland

17 Mar at 2.45pm – Wales v France at Millennium Stadium
Referee: Craig Joubert

17 Mar at 5pm – England v Ireland at Twickenham
Referee: Nigel Owens

Photo: Reuters.


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