O'Brien calls for more of the same from refs
January 26, 2012
Paddy O'Brien has refrained from making widespread changes © Getty Images
The International Rugby Board's referee manager Paddy O'Brien has asked for more of the same from his referees ahead of the forthcoming Six Nations.
Despite a World Cup which included some high profile incidents involving the officials, O'Brien has opted to stick with the tried and tested ahead of the Six Nations with the referees asked to focus on the tackle, scrum, maul, offside lines at the breakdown and general foul play.
And O'Brien has confirmed that they will debut a new match official selection process at the Six Nations with four selectors - Lyndon Bray (SANZAR), Tappe Henning (SANZAR), Donal Courtney (Six Nations) and Clayton Thomas (Six Nations) - sitting on the panel to decide who gets appointed to matches around the world.
"Performance review and selection are key areas of preparation for all our match officials," said O'Brien. "The IRB operates a rigorous process and the appointment of four extremely experienced selectors who work with the referees in a Super Rugby and Heineken Cup capacity is a reflection of our committment to this area of the Game.
"It's about appointing the top officials to the top matches worldwide. It's about making sure they are selected on merit and then are constantly and consistently reviewed to ensure they remain the best. Every game is analysed and each performance reviewed. Coaches also give their feedback.
"Having spoken to the coaches this week, they all know exactly what the IRB is trying to achieve with the referees and they have been informed that there are no changes in emphasis. It is encouraging to note that the coaches have all bought into the process and are in agreement with the five key areas of focus."
The Six Nations will see debuts handed to two officials with Jérôme Garces of France and New Zealand's Chris Pollock both taking their tournament bows.
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