Wayne Barnes: Veteran referee helps launch new representative body

Dylan Coetzee
Waynes Barnes looks on during a Premiership game.

Rugby’s most experienced Test referee Wayne Barnes helped launch the first representative body for high-performance match officials in the sport.

The body, called International Rugby Match Officials (IRMO), will protect the interests of referees and officials in the sport whilst providing a platform for interaction with rugby’s governing body.

Online abuse

Barnes’s involvement comes after his 100th Test with a whistle in hand between France and South Africa when the Englishman was criticised by Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, giving way to online abuse for him and his family.

At the launch, Barnes spoke about how the IRMO will provide the first-ever platform to support and discuss issues in the game.

Barnes said: “Today’s launch represents an important development for the recognition and support of rugby match officials on the world stage.

“For the first time, there will be a collective voice and support network for international referees and television match officials, championing matters of interest ranging from physical and mental wellbeing promotion to upholding the sport’s values and representing international match officials within World Rugby decision-making structures.”

IRMO will promote development officiating, promoting the interests of current referees, and inputting discussion on future laws.

Valuable representative body

World Rugby is behind the group, and chief executive Alan Gilpin praised the value of the IRMO in the game.

“Match officials are fundamental to the sport, and their role is greater than the matches they officiate,” Gilpin said.

“They are ambassadors, champions of our values and increasingly contributing to the future shape of the sport through their game expertise.

“The establishment of IRMO importantly provides both a voice and a support mechanism for the world’s top match officials and will better formalise the interactions between them and World Rugby across a range of topics from law review, officiating performance and tournament provisions to commercial opportunities and mental wellbeing, all geared towards enabling them to be the best they can be on and off the field.”

READ MORE: British and Irish Lions: Qatar aiming to host a game during 2025 Australia tour