18 Aug 2017
PRO14 have appointed Greg Garner of England to manage its elite referees in the championship which has been expanded, from PRO12 to PRO14.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
Greg Garner has been for years a top referee in England, a full-time referee since 2009, a calm, quiet referee whose accuracy, clear communication and obvious feel for the game were impressive and left one wondering why he had not climbed even higher.
Garner, who started refereeing at 19, is only 37 and there would still be time for more achievements. Not that his have been inconsiderable. He refereed 16 Tests, 40 European Cup matches and 120 matches in England's premiership. He was also on World Rugby's Sevens circuit and in 2012 refereed the final of the Junior World Championship at Newlands.
The experience is certainly there.
In its press release PRO14 said: "The appointment of Garner, who will continue on from the excellent work of Ed Morrison (former Independent Referee Appointments Commissioner), signals the intent to ensure that the Guinness PRO14 provides the highest standards of officiating across all areas of the game.
"The specific role of the Elite Referee Manager will be to manage all PRO14 match official appointments. Garner will also oversee a structured and objective performance review process while liaising with all unions across the PRO14 to identify and promote future match official talent."
David Jordan, the tournament director for PRO14, said: "We are delighted to have appointed Greg as our elite referee manager after he emerged from a group of very talented candidates."
Garner said: "I'm excited to be joining the Championship at such a monumental point in its history. The Guinness PRO14 is renowned for its Positive Play, creative players and adventurous coaches, and I know that referees have a role to play in the ensuring that teams have the right environment to flourish.
"By getting referees, coaches and players working together we can continue to provide fast, attractive rugby for fans right across the tournament.
"I would like to thank my predecessor Ed Morrison, an icon of refereeing, who did an excellent job in raising the standards in the Championship and bringing through fresh talent such as Mike Adamson, Andrew Brace, Ben Whitehouse and Frank Murphy to name but a few.
"We currently have some of the best referees in world rugby but our aim is to establish a High-Performance talent pool across the participating unions to appoint neutral match officials to all games, bringing through consistent talent and continually raising standards.”
The "participating unions" include South Africa, and so there will be South African match officials, and Garner will be in South Africa this weekend to make contact.