World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the Women’s Six Nations 2020 as referees will look to perform at their best with less than two years until Rugby World Cup 2021 kicks off in New Zealand.
The selection includes representatives from nine member unions and for the first time in the history of the Women’s Six Nations, all 15 games will be overseen by a neutral, female only team of three on-field officials.
Among the list, Amber McLachlan (Australia) and Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand) will make their Six Nations debuts when they take charge of England v Wales at The Stoop on 7 March and Ireland v Italy in Dublin on 8 March respectively.
Sara Cox (England), the most senior referee in the squad, will bring her experience and officiate on the first weekend in Cardiff for Wales v Italy. Aurélie Groizeleau (France) will look to build on her tournament debut in 2019 with involvement in four games in next year’s edition, two as referee and two as an assistant referee.
The 2020 referees’ squad is completed by Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa), Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Clara Munarini (Italy), Joy Neville (Ireland) and Nikki O’Donnell (England).
The continuing development of test level referees has been boosted by high-performance programmes dedicated to female match officials and the significant increase in women’s tests throughout the year. All referees officiating in the Women’s Six Nations 2020 have taken charge of test matches in 2019, including at the Women’s Rugby Super Series, Africa and Oceania Rugby World Cup 2021 qualifiers and during the November test window.
The appointments for the Women’s Six Nations 2020 were based on performance assessments from these competitions as World Rugby aims to build the strongest possible team of match officials for Rugby World Cup 2021.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Women’s Six Nations Championship will kick-start a new decade that we hope will see continued and unprecedented growth in women’s rugby.
“With our strong focus on developing women in rugby across the game it is very pleasing that we have been able to appoint female only teams of three on-field match officials for all 15 of the Women’s Six Nations games.”
“The match officials are continuing their preparations for Rugby World Cup 2021 and I’m confident this squad has got an excellent balance of youth and experience to deliver a very successful tournament.”
World Rugby 15s High Performance Match Official Manager Alain Rolland added: “There has been incredible work done bringing this team of match officials to the best-possible level and we believe they are in very good shape less than two years away from New Zealand 2021.
“They are a dedicated group with high standards, and we are excited to see new referees coming from our high-performance programmes and other women’s competitions making it to test level.
“Our goal is always clear, consistent and accurate decision-making and while there is no change in emphasis, we will continue to work closely with teams to ensure the best-possible experience for players and fans.
“Special congratulations go to Amber McLachlan and Rebecca Mahoney for their first Six Nations refereeing appointments.”
Courtesy of World Rugby