Referees Owens and Barnes to appear at 4th Rugby World Cup

DUBLIN — Welsh referee Nigel Owens will have a chance to control his second Rugby World Cup final after making the 12-man list on Tuesday for the tournament which kicks off in September in Japan.

Owens whistled the 2015 final won by New Zealand against Australia at Twickenham, and has gone on to referee a world record 87 tests. He could be in line for the final on Nov. 2 in Yokohama if Wales do not qualify.

This will be Owens' fourth and last World Cup, along with Wayne Barnes of England, who has reffed 83 tests. Barnes has said he's retiring after the World Cup. Owens is contracted to Wales only to the end of next season.

The dozen include four from France, two each from England, Australia, and New Zealand, and one each from Wales and South Africa.

The World Cup will be the third for Romain Poite and Jerome Garces of France, and the second for countrymen Pascal Gauzere and Mathieu Raynal, Australian Angus Gardner, named the world's best referee in 2018, and South Africa's Jaco Peyper.

Appearing at their first World Cup will be Australian Nic Berry, New Zealanders Ben O'Keeffe and Paul Williams, and England's Luke Pearce.

None have been allocated matches, yet. They have a combined experience of 457 tests, and 525 as assistant refs.

Another seven were named as assistants, including Shuhei Kubo of Japan, the only referee from outside the tier one nations, and four more as television match officials.

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