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Marius van der Westhuizen to referee Ireland's first Test against Australia

The South African was due to be assistant referee for Ireland’s Grand Slam victory in Twickenham, but was replaced after his involvement in an England training

Van der Westhuizen took charge of Ireland's November win over Canada in 2016.
Van der Westhuizen took charge of Ireland's November win over Canada in 2016.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THE OFFICIAL WHO was replaced as assistant referee for Ireland’s Grand Slam decider in Twickenham following his involvement in an England training session will take charge of Ireland’s first Test against Australia on 9 June.

Marius van der Westhuizen was replaced by Nigel Owens for what proved to be a 24 – 15 Ireland win after refereeing England’s training session in the Tuesday before the match. A move World Rugby made while taking full responsibility for the ‘oversight’.

Before the decision was made official by the governing body, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt moved to back the South African, insisting he had no question over his integrity, but that it was a surprising turn of events.

“I’m sure in retrospect people are probably thinking it’s not the best thing to do,” Schmidt said before the Grand Slam was secured.

“I know Marius and I would have no hesitation in standing by his integrity. I don’t think it will affect his decision-making and we’ll stand by him as an official on Saturday.”

In the first of a three-match series, Van der Westhuizen will be assisted by Pascal Gauzere and Paul Williams for the Brisbane Test.

That three-man team of officials will rotate roles through the series with New Zealander Williams taking the whistle for the second Test in Melbourne on 16 June and France’s Gauzere in charge of the final Test in Sydney on 23 June. Kiwi Ben Skeen will be the TMO for all three Tests.

Referee John Lacey John Lacey refereeing France's loss to Scotland. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Elsewhere in World Rugby’s June officiating roster, Ireland’s John Lacey will be on the crew for France’s three-Test tour of New Zealand, assisting Luke Pearce and Angus Gardner before taking charge of the third Test in Dunedin on 23 June.

Andrew Brace will also take charge of a Tier one Test as he heads to Argentina, refereeing the Pumas’ first match against Wales on 9 June before assisting Jaco Peyper and Mathieu Raynal.

Former Connacht scrum-half Frank Murphy will run the line as assistant ref for South Africa v Wales (2 June) and USA v Russia (9 June) while George Clancy will perform the same duty for Canada’s meetings with Scotland and Russia (9 and 16 June).

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Sean Farrell

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