World Rugby has officially confirmed that veteran English referee Wayne Barnes has been appointed as the man in the middle for Saturday’s World Cup final in Paris.
Barnes will have compatriots Karl Dickson and Matthew Carley as his assistant referees with Tom Foley named as the Television Match Official.
The world’s most-capped referee with 110 tests having made his debut with Fiji v Samoa in Suva in June 2006, Barnes will become the second Englishman to officiate a Rugby World Cup final after Ed Morrison, who was in charge when New Zealand and South Africa last met in the title decider in 1995.
The 44-year-old adds his name to an honour roll of Rugby World Cup final referees that also features Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia, 1987), Derek Bevan (Wales, 1991), Andre Watson (South Africa, 1999 and 2003), Alain Rolland (Ireland, 2007), Craig Joubert (South Africa, 2011), Nigel Owens (Wales, 2015) and Jérôme Garcès (France, 2019).
It will be a record 27th World Cup match as referee for Barnes in what is his fifth tournament and first World Cup final.
The final will be his sixth match in the middle during France 2023, equalling the record he set at 2019 when he took charge of New Zealand’s defeat of Wales in the bronze final in Tokyo.
Barnes was in charge of South Africa’s 2022 November Test against France in Marseille, after which Rassie Erasmus released a series of social media videos appearing to question his decisions.
The Englishman also has history with the All Blacks as he was in charge of New Zealand’s controversial quarter-final loss to France in 2007. More recently, he blew the whistle in New Zealand’s 2023 quarter-final victory over Ireland.
Nic Berry (Australia) will take charge of the bronze final, supported by Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) and Andrew Brace (Ireland) as assistant referees and Ben Whitehouse (Wales) as TMO.