So what next for officiating?
Rowly Williams,
October 28, 2011
Otago captain Eben Joubert reasons with referee Glen Jackson, Otago v North Harbour, ITM Cup, Carisbrook, July 14, 2011
Glen Jackson may take centre stage in 2015 © Getty Images
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So that's it. The Rugby World Cup is over for another four years - until appearing again at Twickenham and surrounding areas in England 2015. Who the teams will be, depends on a series of seeded and un-seeded teams, World Cup qualifiers, and eventual qualification as one of the 20 teams compete for 'Bill'… Who the referees will be? Well that's another question.

As we speak, the reflections, reviews, reports, discussions and conversations amongst the great and the good of the refereeing world are taking place. Many, if not all, of the officials who took part in this tournament are taking some well-earned time off before returning to their domestic duties. For some this would have been their last tournament and they would have advised Paddy O'Brien, the IRB elite referee manager, of the fact. For others, they will be hoping they will have done enough to remain in the IRB's thinking for next time.

However, like players - form and performances over the next four years will be very important. Those referees standing down will now see the 'new breed' come through. The recently published list of 12 referees to manage the IRB World Sevens Series contains names most of you will never have heard of which is no bad thing, because it suggests a changing of the guard. Federico Anselmi (UAR) Akihisa Aso (JRFU) and Tui Komiti (Sam) all signify that the IRB are planning ahead and looking further abroad.

Additionally there are younger referees currently plying their trade in top flight matches; JP Doyle & Greg Garner in England's Premiership, Glen Jackson, making his much heralded move from playing into refereeing in New Zealand, Tony Moyes in Australia along with John Lacey and Leighton Hodges in the RaboDirect PRO12 to name a few. The highly experienced Mark Lawrence (SA) and Stuart Dickenson (Aus) have already announced their retirement from international duty. It may well be, once the World Cup dust has settled, that there will be some more announcements in the coming weeks and months.

Like selecting a team of players, the IRB will look to appoint a panel of experience and promise. But rest assured, all will have needed to have proved themselves in the selection panels' eyes, in some high profile and high pressure situations. Refereeing at this years' World Cup will not be enough to guarantee appearing in the next.

How the 2011 tournament was managed by the officials has already been the subject of comment - both good and bad. Incidents that caused controversy have been replayed dozens of times and certain decisions discussed by the media and rugby pundits far and wide. Some of it was well thought out, had merit and the TV images to support them. Other times… well, comment for comment's sake might be a polite way of putting it, and in the very worst cases of misinformed comment the following misquote of an old adage might apply: 'Never let the laws get in the way of a good story!'

Roll on 2015……

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