Rugby officials all around the world are now being given a larger voice within World Rugby’s structures.
The International Rugby Match Officials (IRMO) has been set up to improve communication between match officials and the World Rugby governing body. The aim is to be able to support these officials better both off and on the field of play.
Officials are becoming more active in big decisions regarding the sports future when it comes to rule changes and safety, so the introduction of their own governing body makes sense. There will also be an emphasis on promoting the correct values that are at the heart of the sport’s culture. This in turn will hopefully attract more participants into the game as officials, a vocation that has seen a large drop off in the grassroot game over the past few years.
IRMO’s key objectives will be:
– To act as a representative body for its members on World Rugby committees and in discussions around the laws of the game, relevant game-related protocols and high performance standards at tournaments for match officials.
– To promote and support the physical and mental wellbeing of members.
– To promote the development of high-performance match officials and inspire more young people to take up officiating.
– To promote the values of the game that are central to the sport’s growth.
IRMO’s members include record-breaker Wayne Barnes, the most-capped referee in test history with 101 matches, and Rugby World Cup 2021 and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 final referee Hollie Davidson.
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.”
Davidson said: “IRMO will play an important role in supporting and nurturing the current and next generation of international match officials, working with stakeholders such as World Rugby to provide the platform for our members to be the best they can be on the world stage, while providing inspiration for the next generation to take up the whistle.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin welcomed the establishment of the body, stating: “Match officials are fundamental to the sport and their role is greater than the matches they officiate. 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.”
To view the full statement please follow the link below:
At last we have a collective voice and support network for match officials in rugby union. A really positive step forward for the game. https://t.co/M1j7HoerOX
— Wayne Barnes (@WayneBarnesRef) December 21, 2022