The technologically advanced and contemporary kit, produced by Rugby World Cup official partner Canterbury, features a design that plays on the unique story and palette of the Rugby World Cup 2019 look and feel and the jerseys come in three distinctive colours – green, purple and red.
The squad of 23 match officials selected to take charge of the 48 matches at Rugby World Cup 2019, which runs from 20 September-2 November in 12 venues across Japan, are referred to as ‘Team 21’ – the 21st tournament team. The squad comprises 12 referees, seven assistant referees and four Television Match Officials (TMOs) representing nine nations.
Just like the players and teams, the Rugby World Cup Match Officials are in intense preparation mode, including a demanding physical fitness regime to ensure they reach Japan 2019 in peak condition.
As part of this process the match officials gathered for a training and preparation camp in Nanki Shirahama, Japan from 11-12 July. Each match official is undergoing a comprehensive physical monitoring plan, which commenced for the wider group of match officials in January 2016. This includes measures such as GPS information from matches and conditioning sessions, which has shown that on average a referee covers 7km during an international test match.
The match officials’ kit has been carefully designed to assist the match officials in their performance. The jerseys have a set-in raglan sleeve construction which provides increased sleeve mobility and flat re-enforced seams to reduce abrasion. They are made in Advantix fabric which is highly durable with a Vapodri finish to keep them cool and comfortable in Japan.
In a departure from previous Rugby World Cups the referee camera strapped to match officials’ chests will not be deployed at Japan 2019, in favour of the greater mobility and vision offered by the aerial spider-cameras. This further reduces the weight of the kit that the world’s top referees are required to wear under their Canterbury jerseys.
World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Official Manager Alain Rolland said: "The squad of 23 match officials selected for Rugby World Cup 2019 are now in full tournament preparation mode, just like the players and coaches, fine tuning their physical and mental preparations to ensure they reach peak performance in Japan.
"The launch of the match officials kit is another exciting step on the journey to Japan 2019 and the technological advancements will certainly help to ensure the referees are able to perform at the top of their game in the unique climatic conditions of the host country.
"‘Team 21’ has an exciting blend of experience and youth and has been selected after the most competitive process to date. It was an excellent opportunity to gather the group together for the training camp in Japan to share best practice, discuss focus areas and build the sense of unity and team spirit in the match officials squad ahead of the biggest moment of many of their careers."
Simon Rowe, Head of Sports Marketing, Canterbury said: "Never before has our commitment to the game been so visible as Rugby World Cup 2019, with seven world-class teams, fans and volunteers joining the ‘Team 21’ referees wearing the latest Canterbury rugby kit.
"The physical demands of refereeing at the highest level have increased as the game has developed, so we’re proud to have worked with World Rugby to create the Japan 2019 inspired kit that will enable the referees to perform and look their best on the world’s greatest rugby stage."
Rugby World Cup 2019 is set to attract the largest number of international fans in the tournament’s history with more than 600,000 of the 1.8 million available tickets expected to be held by fans making the journey to Japan to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Two fans are making an extra special trip as they have embarked on a 20,000 kilometre ‘Race to Rugby World Cup’ from Twickenham to Tokyo in aid of World Rugby’s principal Rugby World Cup 2019 charity partner ChildFund Pass It Back, which is raising funds to provide life skills through rugby to more than 25,000 disadvantaged children across Asia.
The pair of riders – Ron Rutland and James Owens from South Africa – are carrying with them a commemorative whistle that will be handed to the referee of the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019 when hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on 20 September, 2019. For more information visit www.racetorwc.com.
Demand for tickets across the 2018 ballot phases and during first come, first served sales that kicked off in January has been extraordinary, with more than 5.5 million ticket applications received. The remaining tickets are now on sale via www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets