28 May 2019
Wayne Barnes has been appointed to referee the final of the 2019 Premiership at Twickenham on Saturday when Exeter Chiefs and Saracens meet.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
There is no surprise in the appointment. It is the ninth time that he will have refereed the Premiership final. Nine out of 17!
After all, Barnes has long been one of the World's top referees. When he goes to the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year, it will be the fourth time that he will have done so. Not that he is blasé about it. But he is delighted to have the appointment - chosen by men who know referees and refereeing from a strong group of referees to referee one of the great matches of world rugby before a huge crowd in a great and historic stadium.
He is a vastly experienced referee. After all he has been on England's national panel of referees since 2001. He was then the youngest referee ever to make the panel, being just 21 but with six years' refereeing behind him, after starting at 15. Since them he has refereed 81 Test matches and 218 Premiership matches - and he is only 40. (Nigel Owens, who is also going to his fourth World Cup, the man who refereed the PRO14 final last Saturday is 47.)
Barnes could, if he chose, walk to the ground with his tog bag to referee the final. After all, he, wife Polly and their daughter and son live in Twickenham. In fact the whole team of referees will be doing the Twickenham stroll on Saturday, along with lots of cheerful fans.
When he gets time off from rugby, the law graduate from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, travels up to the heart of London, to the legal firm of Fulcrum Chambers of which he is a director, a barrister specialising in "white collar" crimes such as fraud, bribery and money laundering.
Match Officials for the Final
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley, Tom Foley
4 & 5: Luke Pearce, Karl Dickson
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Timekeeper: Paul Stanley
Assessor: Chris White
When Barnes went to the 2007 World Cup, Chris White, Saturday's man to assess Barnes, was also one of the referees, a top man in his time. He refereed 50 Tests and 190 Premiership matches, including two finals, and was a referee at three World Cups, a man who has done a great deal for English referees with the manner of his refereeing and since them with the help and guidance he has been able to give referees.
Luke Pearce, Matthew Carley, Karl Dickson and Graham Hughes will also be at the World Cup in Japan - Pearce as referee, Carley and Dickson as assistant referees and Hughes as a TMO.
It is a strong team of officials, well worthy of the occasion.
Premiership Final Referees Down the Years
2003: Tony Spreadbury (Gloucester vs Wasps)
2004: Chris White (Bath vs Wasps)
2005: Chris White (Leicester Tigers vs Wasps)
2006: Dave Pearson (Sale Sharks vs Leicester Tigers)
2007: Dave Pearson (Gloucester vs Leicester Tigers)
2008: Wayne Barnes (Wasps vs Leicester Tigers)
2009: Wayne Barnes (Leicester Tigers vs London Irish)
2010: Dave Pearson (Leicester Tigers vs Saracens)
2011: Wayne Barnes (Leicester Tigers vs Saracens)
2012: Wayne Barnes (Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers)
2013: Wayne Barnes (Leicester Tigers vs Northampton Saints)
2014: JP Doyle (Saracens vs Northampton Saints)
2015: Wayne Barnes (Bath vs Saracens)
2016: Wayne Barnes (Saracens vs Exeter Chiefs)
2017: JP Doyle (Wasps vs Exeter Chiefs)
2018: Wayne Barnes (Exeter Chiefs vs Saracens)
2019: Wayne Barnes (Exeter Chiefs vs Saracens)