Wayne Barnes will set a new Test-match refereeing record this autumn, and has no plans to stop there.
Barnes will draw level with Nigel Owens on a century of Tests with his duties at the Principality Stadium – and will then set a new outright record when officiating France’s clash with South Africa in Paris on November 12.
The 43-year-old seemingly has a new lease of life for refereeing, and revealed he wants to press on with his top-level career.
Barnes ran through a range of subjects as a guest on this week’s Evening Standard Rugby Podcast, supported by Fuller’s London Pride, and was clear on his remaining ambitions.
England reaching the World Cup final in Japan in 2019 put paid to Barnes’ chances of officiating the showpiece event, but the Gloucestershire native remains hopeful for 2023.
“There are still some things that I want to do, I’m still refereeing pretty well,” said Barnes.
“I have to work hard at my fitness, that gets harder so you have to look after yourself a little bit more.
“I still want to be involved in the big European Cup matches with South African teams coming in. I want to be involved in World Cups, if I go to the next one (in 2023 in France) that will be my fifth.
“If England are involved in the final I will be there and cheering in the stands as I know that England being successful does a lot more for Teddington Rugby Club and a lot more for Bream Rugby Club back in the Forest of Dean because it gets people talking about our sport. If England are not there and I’ve put myself in a good enough position, then we will see.”
Barnes has taken charge of 265 Gallagher Premiership matches, whistling 10 finals in the process. But he revealed the battle to improve effectively never ends.
“The most brutally honest person on any review tends to be the referee themselves,” said Barnes.
“We really do scrutinise our performance and we will be the first ones to say ‘not good enough’.
“There have been times in games this year where I have spoken to the director of rugby after games and I say ‘look, I got it wrong’, ’I just didn’t see it like that’, ‘there was a player in my way’ or ‘I was distracted’.
“When I get a decision wrong I don’t mean to do it, I just try to get better and I think what is great about rugby is that you can have those grown-up conversations.”
The Evening Standard Rugby Podcast, in partnership with Fuller’s London Pride, is a weekly podcast that launched in 2021. London Pride are the Official Beer of Premiership Rugby and the weekly podcast is now back with BT Sport Rugby presenter Sarra Elgan joining the team as regular presenter alongside Lawrence Dallaglio.