South Africa v Ireland referee pulls out for personal reasons as Luke Pearce called in

-Credit: (Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)
-Credit: (Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)

Luke Pearce is the referee for today's South Africa v Ireland match after official Angus Gardner pulled out for "personal reasons".

Gardner had been due to take charge of the first Test at Loftus Versfeld today but will now be replaced by England’s Pearce. Pearce will also take on the role of assistant referee for the second Test at the Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban the following weekend.

A World Rugby statement on the matter said: “World Rugby has confirmed that Angus Gardner (Australia) has withdrawn from officiating duties for the two-test series between South Africa and Ireland for personal reasons. The Australian will be replaced by Luke Pearce (England) as referee for the first test and also as assistant referee for the second test.

“As a consequence of the change, there are also further amendments to the appointments, including Christophe Ridley (England), replacing Pearce as assistant referee for Japan v Georgia on 13 July.”

Gardner is one of the top officials in the game and was named World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2018. He has officiated at three Rugby World Cups, in 2015, 2019 and 2023.