Rugby League World Cup 2021 has announced the Match Officials that will officiate the tournament’s 61 fixtures, with the tournament kicking off at St James’ Park on 15 October when England men begin their campaign against Samoa.
Australian official Gerard Sutton is one of the names included, with the vastly experienced Australian having officiated the 2017 Men’s final between Australia and England. Sutton has also refereed seven NRL Grand Finals, the 2014 World Club Challenge and matches in eight State of Origin series.
Sutton will also be joined by England’s Jack Smith, a former Royal Marine who was shot by a sniper by the Taliban in 2011 and who has been touch judge in the Four Nations series in 2016 and for the 2017, 2020 and 2021 Challenge Cup Finals as well as the Super League Grand Final in 2021.
Also on the list is Liam Moore, who has officiated at the last two Super League Grand Finals as well as the Challenge Cup Finals in 2020 and 2021. Ashley Klein, who was in charge of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Final when New Zealand upset Australia to claim their first title, will be participating in his fourth World Cup.
There are also three female officials on the list with Kasey Badger, Belinda Sharpe and Rochelle Tamura set to officiate across the men’s and women’s tournament fixtures.
The Wheelchair Tournament, which is being run alongside the men’s and women’s competitions for the first time in the sport’s history, will have eight match officials with Kim Abel, Laurent Abrial, Matthew Ball, David Butler, Ollie Cruickshank, Steven Hewson, Grant Jackson and David Roig officiating the matches at English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and the Copper Box Arena in London, before the final heads to Manchester Central on 18 November.
All officials will come into camp before matches for meeting, training and previews to ensure consistency in decision-making and approach, with Men’s & Women’s officials hosted in Manchester and those covering Wheelchair fixtures hosted in Sheffield.
The officials will also attend an Ahead of the Game workshop in conjunction with RLWC2021’s Mental Fitness Partner, Movember, as part of RLWC2021’s Mental Fitness Charter.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Tournament Director, Dean Hardman, said: “I am delighted that we have managed to secure such a talented roster of match officials for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
“Our ambition in all areas is to provide players and spectators with a world class environment with which to enjoy what we hope will be the biggest, best and most inclusive World Cup in the sport’s 127-year history.
“We consider our match officials to be the 33rd team of the tournament and I can’t wait to work with them to deliver high standards across all 61 fixtures.”
Jared Maxwell, NRL’s General Manager for Elite Officiating, said: “We’re delighted to see a number of NRL officials participating in Rugby League World Cup 2021. The tournament brings together the best players from across the globe and it’s important that the quality of officiating meets those same high standards. I know that our officials are really looking forward to travelling to England to play their part in what is looking set to be a fantastic tournament.”
Steve Ganson, Head of Match Officials at the RFL said: “With the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments running together simultaneously for the very first time it was vital that we assembled the best possible team of officials for all three tournaments. This is a vastly experienced group with a huge wealth of domestic and international experience that will play their part in ensuring Rugby League World Cup 2021 is officiated to the best standard possible.”
A full list of the officials who will be in action at the biggest, best and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history is available below:
Men’s and women’s tournament officials
Atkins, Grant (NRL); Badger, Kasey (NRL); Bowmer, Dean (RFL); Casty, Ben (FFRXIII); Child, James (RFL); Furner, Darian (NRL); Gee, Adam (NRL); Grant, Tom (RFL); Griffiths, Marcus (RFL); Hicks, Robert (RFL); Horton, Neil (RFL); Kendall, Chris (RFL); Klein, Ashley (NRL); Moore, Aaron (RFL); Moore, Liam (RFL); Parkinson, Paki (NZRL); Poumes, Geoffrey (FFRXIII); Raymond, Wyatt (NRL); Rush, Liam (RFL); Sharpe, Belinda (NRL); Smaill, Michael (RFL); Smith, Jack (RFL); Smith, Todd (NRL); Sutton, Gerard (NRL); Tamarua, Rochelle (NZRL); Thaler, Ben (RFL); Turley, Warren (RFL); Vella, James (RFL)
Wheelchair tournament officials
Abel, Kim (WALES); Abrial, Laurent (FFRXIII); Ball, Matthew (ENGLAND); Butler, David (ENGLAND); Cruickshank, Ollie (SCOTLAND); Hewson, Steven (AUSTRALIA); Jackson, Grant (WALES); Roig, David (FFRXIII)