International Rugby Board elite referees manager Paddy O'Brien has stepped down from his post with immediate effect it was announced on Saturday.
The game's governing body has also revealed that New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence has been dropped from the international panel as it announced its referee appointments the June Test window.
English referees Wayne Barnes and Dave Pearson have also been excluded from the list of nine referees.
The announcements came as part of a restructuring of the referee selection process that the IRB hopes will ensure consistency and that the best referees are selected on form to officiate in the biggest matches in the run up to the 2015 World Cup.
A "vastly experienced committee" will now take charge of a streamlined selection process. The committee, which includes former elite referees Lyndon Bray, Tappe Henning, Donal Courtney and Clayton Thomas will now meet four times per year and make selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed as part of the next round of international selections.
O'Brien, who has been at the head of the IRB referees for the last seven years, will move to become High Performance Manager for the Sevens series.
While the IRB have stated the move is aimed at preparing referees for the Olympics, many pundits consider the move - like the axing of Lawrence - as a reaction to the unhappiness of the handling of referees at the 2011 World Cup.
O'Brien's replacement has yet to be named.
"Paddy's exceptional dedication and application to driving forward elite match official standards has significantly benefitted the Game over the past seven years," commented IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.
Following a thorough review of performances during the recently concluded Six Nations, the selection committee's commitment to promoting consistency has been reflected in the latest selections with nine elite referees appointed to the top matches in what is a busy June international window.
They are: George Clancy (Ireland), Jérôme Garcès (France), Craig Joubert (South Africa), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Romain Poite (France), Alain Rolland (Ireland) and Steve Walsh (Australia).
Acting chairman of the selection committee and IRB Council member for Scotland John Jeffrey said: "The IRB is committed to ensuring that the platform is in place to promote the very best refereeing standards at the elite level of the Game. Our priority is the continued promotion of consistency and performance and our strategic goal is to deliver the best available panel for Rugby World Cup 2015 while at the same time applying the best-for-best principle in the selection of referees for each international window.
"There will be consistent movement in and out of the panel based on form to reward the top performers and those making the step up as we build towards RWC 2015 in England. In short, this means that referees are selected on merit, in form and closer to the matches being played. All Member Unions are committed to this process, which is essential for its success."
The committee have also agreed that the key areas of the game identified for particular focus by referees needed constant reviewing. Those five key areas are:
* All aspects of the tackle with particular emphasis to be placed on the tackler releasing the tackled player and rolling away and arriving players staying on their feet
* Offside at the breakdown
* Offside from kicks
* All aspects of the scrum, particularly the engagement process and front-row binding
* All aspects of the maul, particularly what constitutes legal maul defence