Although the leading Southern Hemisphere tournament, the Rugby Championship, is traditionally played between the All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies and Pumas – this year England are also putting in a team (behind the whistle) as Luke Pearce and Matt Carley head south to take charge.
Among other fixtures, the England pair are preparing to oversee the most eagerly-awaited contests between New Zealand and South Africa – for many the highlight of the tournament.
The first clash of the rugby titans will be in Townsville on September 25, overseen by ref Luke Pearce and assistants Jaco Peyper, and Angus Gardner, and TMO Damon Murphy – and this one should be special.
Not only is it the first of two contests between the All Blacks and Springboks – but it also marks the 100th test between the two nations. A historical match that has all the hallmarks of being a classic.
Pearce has already cemented himself as one of the leading officials in the sport. Having started refereeing when he was aged about 16, Luke has more than 300 first class appearances and over 30 internationals under his belt, covering everything from the Six Nations, the Rugby Championship and the World Cup.
The 33-year-old, who lives in Exeter, was inspired to pick up the whistle by his dad, who also officiated at Championship level.
When our partners at ACME Whistles spoke to Luke earlier in the year about his ideal game, he said: “To be honest, any team who are playing attacking rugby – I love refereeing positive attacking teams.”
With the Springboks coming into the tournament fresh off the back of victory over the Lions, we think there’ll be plenty of attacking rugby on the 25th.
Luke will also be refereeing the South Africa v Australia game on September 12and will be an assistant referee at the return leg six days later.
Click here to learn more about Luke ahead of the game.
The following weekend, New Zealand and South Africa once again come together, this time at the CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, overseen by England’s Matt Carley and assistants Damon Murphy, Angus Gardner and TMO James Leckie.
With pride and the Rugby Championship title at stake – it’s sure to be another monumental clash.
Matt, who lives in Deal, Kent, was the first person to be offered a RFU refereeing scholarship, which ran alongside his sports science degree. He has since seen refereed more than 100 Premiership games and over 20 internationals.
As part of RUCK’s partnership with ACME Whistles, we spoke to Matt revealed the opportunity was a dream come true.
“As an English referee, you look at the Bledisloe Cup or New Zealand v South Africa,” he said “They are the two games are would probably be the most precious.
“To be appointed to go referee in the southern hemisphere and gain their respect would probably be the ultimate.”
Matt will also be officiating the return fixture on the September 18 and the match between Australia v Argentina on September 25. He will be TMO for the South Africa v Australia game on September 12th.
Click here to learn more about Matt ahead of the game.
Both Pearce and Carley are excited about their upcoming games, and with the help of our partners at ACME Whistles, we hope to get some one-on-one time with them this weekend to see how preparations are going.