Jérôme Garcès will take charge of the first match of The Rugby Championship 2017 when Australia host New Zealand on 19 August.
World Rugby today announced the match official appointments for the upcoming competition, with 18 officials and five TMOs taking charge of the 12 matches and the standalone Bledisloe Cup match in October.
In what is another important stage in the Rugby World Cup cycle for the further development of elite match officials, New Zealand's Ben O’Keeffe will make his Rugby Championship debut when he referees South Africa and Australia at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on 30 September. Several new assistant referees have also come into the elite squad after impressive performances over the recent months.
World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “We’re working hard with Rugby World Cup 2019 in mind and The Rugby Championship gives us a further opportunity to review match officials under the pressure and intensity of international test match rugby.
“Along with officials that performed to the highest level during the Lions series and the June internationals, we now have new faces coming into the panel. Our ultimate goal is to arrive in Japan in 2019 with an established group of top-class, in-form officials with the necessary experience to perform at the highest level.
“Our focus continues to be clear and consistent decision-making and the highest standards of physical conditioning.”
The selection system allows for movement in and out of the panel based on form and rewards the top performers and young referees who have graduated through the performance pathway. Every performance is closely scrutinised and reviewed to ensure accountability. In addition, there is regular consultation with coaches with their feedback helping to inform selection decisions.