World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the RBS Women's 6 Nations 2017, which gets underway in February.
Appointments were made by the World Rugby Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting and follow a detailed review of all recent performances.
The championship opener between Scotland and Ireland on Friday, 3 February will be refereed by Aimee Barrett of South Africa with Ireland’s Joy Neville taking charge of the last match, on Saturday, 18 March between France and Wales.
A total of 15 referees have been appointed, including World Rugby Referee Award-winner for 2016 Spain’s Alhambra Nievas, who will take charge of the Ireland v England game in Dublin on 17 March. As usual, the appointments for the 15 championship fixtures feature a blend of northern and southern hemisphere match officials.
World Rugby Match Official Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “With Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 now very much on the horizon, we are conscious of further developing our elite female referees as we prepare for that tournament in Ireland.
“During 2016, we lost the excellent services of a number of experienced referees, such as Leah Berard, Sherry Trumbull and Jess Beard, so we have taken the decision to add some male referees to the list for the championship. All these officials are refereeing professional rugby week in, week out and we are confident they will successfully meet the challenges presented by the Women’s Six Nations. As always, 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. The assistant referees for the Women's Six Nations are appointed by the respective host unions.
Women's rugby has enjoyed record growth globally in 2016 and next year will be a huge one for the international game as Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 takes place in Ireland from 9-26 August.
The World Rugby Women's Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by Anthony Buchanan, includes Wayne Erickson, Kat Todd, Robert Davies and World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland.
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