World Cup - Referee: Wayne Barnes

Tue, 06 Sep 16:39:00 2011

We look at the career of World Cup referee Wayne Barnes.

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After taking up refereeing at the age of just 15, Wayne Barnes has enjoyed rapid progress through the ranks.

And the Rugby World Cup will mark his career highlight so far, with 32-year-old Barnes having the honour of being the youngest referee at the tournament.

In 2001 he became the youngest individual ever to be appointed to the Rugby Football Union’s Panel of National Referees. He was then promoted to the Aviva Premiership's elite list at the start of the 2003-04 season.

Having studied at the University of East Anglia, the Gloucestershire official went on to become a criminal law barrister, but then decided to concentrate on being a professional referee in April 2005.

Between 2003 and 2005, Barnes refereed at the Under-19 and Under-21 World Cups and was also the English representative on the Sevens circuit.

But it was in 2006 that he got his big break. He was added to the International Rugby Board's merit panel of 21 referees and made his Test debut, travelling down under to referee three matches during the inaugural Pacific Five Nations before taking charge of the 2007 Six Nations match between Italy and France.

It was at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where Barnes was one of three English referees alongside Tony Spreadbury and Chris White, when the most controversial episode of his career occurred.

After impressing in four pool games, he was handed the responsibility of officiating the quarter-final between France and favourites New Zealand.

Barnes sent the All Blacks' Luke McAlister to the sin-bin for obstruction before missing a blatant forward pass in the build-up to Yannick Jauzion's crucial second try as France won 20-18.

However, International Rugby Board referees manager Paddy O'Brien, a New Zealander himself, stood by the under-fire official, saying: “Wayne Barnes is the brightest star we have on our books.”

Barnes was put in charge of an All Blacks match again as they beat Scotland during the 2008 autumn internationals. But he came in for further criticism, with former Scotland captain David Sole questioning his policing of the scrum before adding: “Mr Barnes needs a little more rehabilitation before he can be considered a world-class referee.”

However, the following year he refereed during the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa and in 2010 he became the youngest referee to take charge of a Heineken Cup final at 31. As well as refereeing in the Premiership and Heineken Cup, Barnes has taken charge of European Challenge Cup and Top 14 games in France.

He has been handed four pool games at the RWC – Argentina-Scotland, Italy-Russia, South Africa-Wales and Wales-Fiji.


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