South Africa vs New Zealand: Who is the referee for the Rugby World Cup final?

England’s Wayne Barnes – once hated in New Zealand – will referee the Rugby World Cup final between South Africa and the All Blacks.

Barnes, the most experienced Test official in history, has been appointed to take charge of the final for the first time.

He will be assisted by Karl Dickson and Matthew Carley in an all-English team, with Tom Foley serving as the television match official (TMO).

Australia’s Nic Berry, meanwhile, will be in charge of the third/fourth place play-off between England and Argentina on Friday, with Andrew Brace of Ireland and Georgia’s Nika Amashukeli on the touchlines. Ben Whitehouse (Wales) will be the TMO.

South African referee Jaco Peyper was unavailable for selection after failing to recover from a calf injury suffered during the quarter-final between Wales and Argentina.

“Wayne’s ability to read and understand the game is second to none,” said Joël Jutge, World Rugby high performance 15s match official manager. “He also embodies the passion, professionalism and dedication that is at the heart of a superb team of match officials at this Rugby World Cup.”

The vastly experienced Barnes has taken charge of more than 100 international games, a record tally, and also oversaw New Zealand’s quarter-final win over Ireland.

Having made his tournament debut in France in 2007, this year’s tournament is the fifth edition of the men’s World Cup at which he has officiated.

Barnes’ debut World Cup ended in controversy, with New Zealand fans unhappy about a perceived forward pass that went unspotted by the referee during their quarter-final exit to the hosts in 2007.

Wayne Barnes has refereed more than 100 international games (Getty Images)
Wayne Barnes has refereed more than 100 international games (Getty Images)

It led to Barnes being voted the third most hated man in New Zealand after Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, but the 44-year-old Gloucestershire ref has since established himself as perhaps the most prominent and popular on-field official in the sport.

It is thought that he was lined up to have the whistle for the 2019 final if England had failed to make it, but gets his chance this time around after his compatriots’ semi-final defeat.

A qualified barrister, Barnes is a partner at law firm Squire Patton Boggs when not on the pitch officiating. He became the Rugby Football Union’s youngest ever elite referee in 2005, and has gone on to officiate more than 250 Premiership matches.