Joubert and France to meet again
November 1, 2011
Alain Rolland shows Sam Warburton the red card during Wales' semi-final loss to France © Getty Images
Craig Joubert has been appointed as the referee for France's final game in next year's Six Nations, against Wales in Cardiff.
The South African official was heavily criticised Les Bleus' Rugby World Cup final defeat by New Zealand last Sunday week, with many neutral observers feeling that he had allowed the All Blacks far greater leeway at the breakdown than the French.
However, the International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed on Tuesday that Joubert will take charge of France's potentially crucial clash with the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium on March 17.
Meanwhile, Alain Rolland has been entrusted with two Championship games, though neither involves Wales. The Irishman came in for a huge amount of stick from the Welsh for showing captain Sam Warburton a straight red card just 18 minutes into the country's World Cup semi-final defeat by France - even though his decision has been backed by many pundits.
Rolland will be the man in the middle for the heavyweight clash between France and England in Paris on March 11 and Italy's meeting with Scotland in Rome the following weekend.
Elsewhere, Welshman Nigel Owens, who was infamously accused of bias by Samoan centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu during the World Cup, will officiate the Championship opener between France and Italy, as well as Ireland's showdown with England in Dublin.
The other chosen referees for the tournament are George Clancy, Wayne Barnes, Dave Pearson, Romain Poite, Steve Walsh, Jerome Garces and Chris Pollock. Both Garces and Pollock will be making their Championship debuts.
"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," IRB 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.
"Collectively we will continue to work as a unit to drive standards and maintain a zero-tolerance attitude towards infringements around the breakdown and at the scrums. In that regard, I would also like to thank the coaches for their buy-in to this process during Rugby World Cup.
"I am delighted to see Chris Pollock and Jerome Garces stepping up to the plate and earning their selection on merit and would like to wish them and all the match officials a superb RBS Six Nations Championship."
Six Nations 2012
February 4: France v Italy, Stade de France, N Owens
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament