Who will be the referee for Springboks v Ireland?

There is expected to be very little that separates the Springboks and Ireland on Saturday, and for a match of this nature, the role of the referee is almost certain to be a major talking point.

It shouldn’t be forgotten this clash was initially set to be refereed by Australia’s Angus Gardner, but last month it was confirmed that he had withdrawn from the officiating team for “personal reasons”.

World Rugby subsequently confirmed that he will be replaced by English referee Luke Pearce. He has refereed the Springboks on seven previous occasions, with South Africa having only won three of those matches (against Argentina, Canada and Tonga) and having lost to New Zealand (twice), Australia and Wales.

Match details and referee team for Saturday’s Springboks-Ireland battle:

Date: Saturday, July 6
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.00 (16.00 UK & Irish time; 15.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

Looking ahead to the encounter, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said he expected a physical onslaught from the visitors in front of a sold-out Loftus Versfeld crowd, and anticipated it would be a full-out battle for 80 minutes.

“Ireland have had the upper hand over us in the last few years and they will certainly want to build on that on Saturday,” said Erasmus.

“That said, we have a good idea of what to expect from them, especially after the World Cup last year.

“They have a few new players in their ranks this year, but so do we and that contributes to the excitement for the match.

“They are a physical team that never gives up, but the margins between the teams are fairly small, so it’s going to be an intense battle and one that will require a resolute performance for the full 80 minutes.”

Matchday squad

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Stats and facts:

Springbok record against Ireland:

Played 28, Won 18, Lost 9, Drawn 1. Points for: 530; Points against: 412. Tries scored: 72; Tries conceded: 38. Highest score: 38; Biggest win: 38 points (38-0). Average score: 19-15. Win %: 64.2%.

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