South African referee Craig Joubert has announced his retirement from 15s officiating in order to take up the role of Referee Talent Development Coach at World Rugby.
Joubert, who has refereed 69 Test matches during an international career that began back in 2003 when he took charge of Namibia v Uganda in Windhoek, is also an experienced sevens match official having refereed on the sevens series circuit in 2004 and 2005, and again in 2015-16 while also taking charge of matches during the Olympic Games at Rio 2016.
Reporting to the sevens and 15s high performance referees managers, Paddy O’Brien and Alain Rolland, respectively, the 39-year-old will be taking up this important new role to help identify and develop the next crop of top men’s and women’s referees in both sevens and 15s.
This full-time position, which was globally advertised, will be a crucial link between unions’ own referee development and World Rugby, to ensure the alignment of strategies and programmes, enabling talented and dedicated match officials to realise their full potential at the highest levels of the game.
In sevens, he will join High Performance Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien’s team to assist with the identification areas of improvement for individual referees while providing specialised and individual coaching to the referees both during the series tournaments and in the weeks between them, providing follow-up coaching with the individuals and union coaches in the weeks between tournaments. He will also remain active as a sevens referee at that level.
“This was not a decision I took lightly given the obvious lure of possibly refereeing the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next year as well as the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019,” Joubert said.
“However, the opportunity to make a difference in other peoples’ careers and lives is something which I’m excited about. It really is a dream job. Over the past few years I have taken Rasta Rasivhenge under my wing and have mentored and coached him and it has been enormously rewarding to see him grow as a person and as a referee.
“This position gives me the opportunity to play a more formal role in sharing my experiences and developing referees and to have a positive influence on the lives and careers of other young referees.
“I am also thrilled that I will continue to referee on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as we build our team of referees towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. I love the sevens environment and being a part of this very special team.”
Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, paid tribute to Joubert and his 12-year career with the organisation.
“Craig has been both an outstanding referee and a role model for aspiring young match officials since the day he burst onto the scene while still in his 20s,” said Alexander.
“His calm, unflappable demeanour both on and off the field have been one of his hallmarks in conjunction with the clear and consistent way in which he has applied the laws and worked with players to allow them to express themselves.”