Joubert to referee World Cup final
October 16, 2011
Craig Joubert is one of the most experienced officials in world rugby © Getty Images
Craig Joubert will take charge of Sunday's Rugby World Cup final showdown between New Zealand and France in Auckland.
The experienced South African official has been entrusted with the game's showpiece event for the first time after overseeing Sunday's semi-final clash between the All Blacks and Australia.
Joubert will be assisted by Ireland's Alain Rolland, who refereed the 2007 tournament final, and Welshman Nigel Owens, while Italy's Guilio de Santis will serve as the Television Match Official (TMO).
Meanwhile, Wayne Barnes will be the man in the middle for Friday's third-place play-off between Australia and Wales. Romain Poite of France and Irishman George Clancy will be Barnes' assistants, with Shaun Veldsman the designated TMO.
The inclusion of Rolland in the team of officials of the final is significant as he came in for criticism from some quarters for dismissing Wales captain Sam Warburton 18 minutes into Saturday's semi-final loss to France for a tip tackle on Vincent Clerc. However, not only will Rolland be running the line at Eden Park on Sunday, he has been selected as the reserve referee for the tournament decider and International Rugby Board (IRB) Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien made a point of praising the Irishman for his handling of Wales' clash with France.
"The IRB Match Official Selection Committee was delighted with Craig and Alain's performances in the semi-finals. Alain will perform the reserve referee role should he be required," he said. "On behalf of the Committee and all of the team I would like to congratulate Craig, Wayne and all the guys on their selection, which is entirely on merit.
"We may be nearing the conclusion of what has been a truly superb Rugby World Cup, but our focus remains firmly on consistency, penalising the clear and the obvious and tackling the 'big five' areas.
"Collectively we continue to work together as a unit and maintain a zero tolerance attitude towards infringements and foul play across the key areas of the Game. In that regard, I would also like to thank the coaches for their buy-in to the process during this tournament."
Unsurprisingly, Joubert is delighted at having been chosen to referee the most important match in rugby. "It is an enormous honour to get the final and I would like to thank Paddy and the Committee for giving me the opportunity," he said.
"The whole team has performed superbly, assisted each other and bonded over the course of the last six weeks and I would like to thank them for their support and best wishes. I am now really looking forward to getting out there and enjoying the occasion."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter