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Nigel Owens headlines new URC appointments

NEWS: The United Rugby Championship’s Head of Match Officials Tappe Henning has added a new element to the competition with the introduction of an independent referee selectors panel.


The URC Independent Referee Selectors Panel will include Nigel Owens (Wales), Goerge Clancy (Ireland), Stuart Berry (South Africa) and Neil Paterson (Scotland).

The panel have been appointed to review the performances of match officials in the competition, while they also have the responsibility of selecting an elite group of referees.

“We changed the structure a bit on how we review our match officials’ performances,” Henning told reporters.

“In the past, it was done by the five high-performance referees from each Union. But now we have a switch for four independent assessors as a selection panel. They are going to do those reviews with me as the chairman of the group.

“By doing this, we have aligned ourselves to the model World Rugby is using to assess international performances. The idea is to bring a fresh pair of eyes and fresh thinking into the mould.

“All four of them are recently retired international referees.


“The aim of that then is to get to an elite group of referees selected on merit and not necessarily on representation from each Union, to bring credibility to the match officials we appoint. That’s the long-term goal.”

Henning revealed that former Scotland hooker Steven Scott has been added as a set-piece analyst.

Scott will have the responsibility of reviewing the scrums and line-outs, which Henning pinpointed as two of the major officiating problem areas.

“Scott will review each and every set-piece and will assess the performance of the referees in the area,” Henning said.


“He will show the referee what are the important parts of the scrum, line-out and maul they should focus on, what they missed, what they didn’t miss and what they did well.

“Most of our referees never played in the forwards, to be honest. Scott has 17 years of experience coaching forwards. Having him on board will help referees to understand the set-piece process a bit better and then hopefully that will lead to better decision-making and more accuracy in reading situations.

Henning added: “Smith’s role will also be to engage with the forward coaches of the teams to discuss matters that they are uncomfortable with and be the link between referees and clubs.

“The main aim is consistency and understanding our responsibilities on both sides in that part of the game.”

Henning also conceded that referees and TMOs will be appointed in pairs, in an effort to create synergy between the two individuals and limit the referral stoppages.

“Our aim is to appoint those [referee and TMO] in pairings. The more they work together the more effective they become and the better understanding there is between them.” Henning said.

“It will then take less time to reach the right decision when it goes to the TMO.

“It also means the TMO can make calls without stopping the game and calling for an official referral. He can give information to the referee that the referee trusts for something that’s only a penalty and doesn’t need to be referred.”


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