Six Nations Championship
Referee appointments for Six Nations announced
December 12, 2008
Tomas O'Leary of Ireland is tackled by Richie McCaw of New Zealand while referee Mark Lawrence looks on during the match between Ireland and the New Zealand All Blacks at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland on November 15, 2008.
South African referee Mark Lawrence took charge of Ireland's clash with New Zealand last month © Getty Images
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The International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for the RBS Six Nations 2009, which kicks off on Saturday, February 7.

Most notable amongst the appointments for the 15 Championship matches is the appointment of South African Mark Lawrence to the match between France and Wales on February 27. The match at the Stade de France will be the first in the history of the Championship to be played on a Friday.

Lawrence, along with Alain Rolland (Ireland), Nigel Owens (Wales) and the world's most experienced Test referee, Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa) will take charge of two matches, while Craig Joubert (South Africa), Chris White (England), Stuart Dickinson (Australia) and Alan Lewis (Ireland) will take charge of one Championship match each.

There is also a debut Six Nations match for George Clancy, who was promoted to the IRB's High Performance Panel in November. The Irishman will take charge of the match between France and Scotland at the Stade de France on February 14.

France's Joel Jutge and New Zealand's Steve Walsh have been provisionally appointed to matches on the final Championship weekend. The pair missed out on the November Tests through injury and will be assessed before they are confirmed for their fixtures.

The most high-profile omission appears to be England's Wayne Barnes who has been named as an assistant for three matches.

Appointments were made after a comprehensive review of refereeing performances by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by David Pickering. For the first time the process included self assessment, with referees giving structured feedback on their individual performances.

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