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Official Watch: A Guide To This Weekend’s Six Nations Referees

Referees Six Nations

Such are the fine margins of international Test rugby, referees often have a big impact on the outcome of games and the Guinness Six Nations is no different. 

Before every round of fixtures, we will take a closer look at those in the middle and some of their key statistics in previous Six Nations games.

Wales v Italy – Luke Pearce 

Referees Six Nations
Luke Pearce

Englishman Luke Pearce refereed his very first Six Nations game in the last year’s championship when he officiated Scotland’s 33-20 win over Italy at Murrayfield.

Pearce does have some other experience of this championship, however. He has been an assistant on 11 occasions in the past.

His first time refereeing an international match was a clash between Romania and Russia in 2013.

Pearce refereed his first top-tier [two Tier 1 nations] international Test match in June 2018 when he was the man in the middle for the All Blacks’ 52-11 win over France.

In that clash, the 32-year-old was criticised for failing to issue any punishment to Sam Cane or Ofa Tu’ungafasi for their involvement in tackling Remy Grosso which left the winger with a double facial fracture. Pearce also yellow-carded Paul Gabrillagues for an alleged high tackle with many people believing that the challenge was perfectly legal.

Luke Pearce Factfile 

Age: 32

Nationality: English

International Debut: Romania v Russia (Bucharest) February 9th 2013

Six Nations Record: 1 game [11 appearances as an assistant]

Yellow Cards Issued Six Nations: 1

Yellow Cards Per Six Nations Match: 1

Red Cards Issued Six Nations: 0

Most Recent Six Nations Appearance: Scotland v Italy (2019)

Ireland v Scotland – Mathieu Raynal

Referees Six Nations
Mathieu Raynal

Mathieu Raynal has officiated three Six Nations games in the past. England v Scotland (2017), Italy v England (2018) and Italy v Wales (2019). He’s also featured as an assistant referee on nine occasions in the Six Nations.

The French man refereed his first international match in 2009 when he took charge of a clash between Malta and the Netherlands in Paola.

The Perpignan native was first appointed to the Top 14 refereeing panel for the 2007/2008 season.

His first international Test match involving a Tier 1 nation was the match between Scotland and Tonga in November 2012.

In 2013, Raynal suffered a fractured fibula and tibia when he got caught between two players in a Top 14 clash between Montpellier and Racing Metro.

Mathieu Raynal Factfile 

Age: 38

Nationality: French

International Debut: Malta v Netherlands (Bucharest) April 25th 2009

Six Nations Record: 3 games [9 appearances as an assistant]

Yellow Cards Issued Six Nations: 1

Yellow Cards Per Six Nations Match: 0.3

Red Cards Issued Six Nations: 0

Most Recent Six Nations Appearance: Italy v Wales (2019)

France v England – Nigel Owens

Referees Six Nations
Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens will take the lead in the most Six Nations games refereed when he officiates the clash between France and England on Sunday. The Welsh man is currently tied on 20 with Wayne Barnes.

Owens has also been an assistant referee more than anyone else with 25 appearances while he’s also acted as a TMO in three Six Nations games in the past.

Owens refereed his first international match in 2003 in the clash between Portugal and Georgia in Lisbon.

The 48-year-old, of course, has had a distinguished refereeing career across numerous competitions including the Six Nations, Challenge Cup, Champions Cup, PRO14 and the World Cup. He was the man in the middle for the 2015 World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia.

Nigel Owens Factfile 

Age: 48

Nationality: Welsh

International Debut: Portugal v Georgia (Lisbon) February 16th 2003

Six Nations Record: 20 games [25 appearances as an assistant]

Yellow Cards Issued Six Nations: 9

Yellow Cards Per Six Nations Match: 0.45

Red Cards Issued Six Nations: 0

Most Recent Six Nations Appearance: England v France (2019)

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter