USA’s Leah Berard among 17 referees chosen for Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow

DUBLIN, Ireland – The International Rugby Board announced today the panel of match officials to preside over the 100 matches at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow June 28-30. The world’s top 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams will showcase their credentials for Olympic qualification to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at the sixth Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Seven female and 10 male match officials from 14 different countries will also have a chance to prove themselves ahead of Rio, including the United States’ Leah Berard. Berard officiated the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy in Salt Lake City, Utah, last June and the Hong Kong IRB Women’s Challenge Cup Final in March 2012, and served as an assistant referee in the HSBC Sevens World Series’ Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Third Place match.

“I’m ecstatic to have been selected as one of seven female match officials worldwide to represent my country and women’s rugby,” Berard said. “I have benefited from much support and guidance through my refereeing journey to make it here. I will show appreciation to my entire global rugby family by giving nothing but my best performances at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.”

The IRB Match Official Selection Committee, chaired by John Jeffrey, considered all performances on the record-breaking HSBC Sevens World Series and the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in its final selection for match officials.

Berard will be joined in Moscow by female colleagues Marlize Jordaan (South Africa) Sherry Trumbull (Canada), Amy Perrett (Australia), Gabriel Lee (Hong Kong), and New Zealand’s Chelsea Gurr and Jess Beard. The seven female referees exceeds the four from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai.

James McPhail (New Zealand), Anthony Moyes (Australia), Matthew O’Brien (Australia), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Rhys Thomas (Wales), Kevin White (Scotland), Alexandre Ruiz (France), and James Bolabiu (Fiji), the only male official returning from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, make up the men’s panel.

In addition to the 20 match officials, seven specialist assistant and in-goal referees will also make the trip to Moscow.

“The panel contains a blend of the very best men’s and women’s international referees who have proven themselves in the challenging HSBC Sevens World Series and IRB Women’s Sevens World Series,” Jeffrey said. “All are included on merit.

“The seven female referees appointed to the tournament will take charge of matches in the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens competition, which runs alongside the men’s. It is a great opportunity for referees who have proven themselves on the Women’s Series to showcase their talent on Rugby Sevens’ biggest global stage.”

Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium will be the home of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, which will bring together the strongest men’s and women’s Sevens players in the world for a three-day festival of world-class rugby, a precursor of what is to come at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

“Planning and preparation is on track and Russia has a proud history of staging exceptional major sporting and cultural events,” Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said. “The Rugby Union of Russia and the Russian Government, in partnership with the IRB, are collaborating to deliver a world-class festival on and off the pitch. It will be a Rugby World Cup Sevens festival like no other.”