IRB gives Bryce the boot

Bryce Lawrence has been axed from the IRB referees panel, while Paddy O’Brien will step down as IRB referee manager and focus on sevens.

Lawrence, New Zealand’s Referee of the Year in 2011, was abysmal in the Boks’ World Cup quarter-final against the Wallabies, allowing a free for all at the breakdown. He has failed to make the IRB referees panel for the June Tests.

The Boks’ matches against England will be blown by Kiwi-turned-Aussie Steve Walsh (Durban and PE) and Ireland’s Alain Rolland (Joburg).

Meanwhile, the IRB said that as part of its ongoing review process and commitment to ensuring consistency and that the best referees are selected on form to officiate in the biggest matches in the run up to the 2015 World Cup, it was introducing a restructured and more streamlined selection process overseen by a vastly experienced committee.

The committee, which includes former elite referees Lyndon Bray, Tappe Henning (both Sanzar), Donal Courtney and Clayton Thomas (both Six Nations), will now meet four times a year and make selections for the next international window with all performances reviewed as part of the next round of international selections.

The IRB said that as part of the restructure, O’Brien ‘has chosen to take on a new challenge’ by focusing on sevens rugby. The process for replacing the New Zealander will be announced in due course.