The IRB is all set to announce the referees for the summer Tests and will nominate the officials for the three internationals between the Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions early this week.
During the last Lions tour of South Africa in 2009 the IRB broke with the historical protocol of not appointing officials from the Lions countries, with Wayne Barnes, Alain Rolland and Nigel Owens officiating in the midweek Lions matches.
But the referees for the Test matches at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on 22 June, the Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, on 29 June and the ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on 6 July will all be neutral. So who is in the running?
Of the 10 top tier IRB referees only the following aren’t from either Australia or the four Home Union: Jerome Garces and Romain Poite (France), Craig Joubert and Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Chris Pollock (New Zealand).
It was on the 1898 Lions tour to Australia that the tourists enjoyed their first neutral official in a Test match, when Frenchman Rene Hourquet controlled the second and third Tests. The Lions had lost the first encounter with the wallabies, but won the next two to take the series 2-1.
Joubert was the fifth official for the first Test in South Africa four years ago and refereed the massacre of the Golden Lions. He was also on the touch line for the draw with the Emerging Springboks.
Peyper ran the touch for the Lions opener in 2009 against the Royal XV and the game against the Sharks. The games against the Cheetahs, Southern Kings and Emerging Springboks were refereed by Barnes, Owens and Rolland.