Kiwis Paul Williams, Ben O'Keeffe named to referee at Rugby World Cup, Glen Jackson's axing confirmed

New Zealand will have two referees at this year's Rugby World Cup with Paul Williams and Ben O'Keeffe's appointments as well as Glen Jackson's omission confirmed overnight.

The officiating group has been named for this year's tournament in Japan where Williams and O'Keeffe will be attending their first world cup with their selections.

Amongst the 12 announced overnight, France contribute the most with four while New Zealand, Australia and England have two. Wales and South Africa have one each.

Along with the Kiwi pair, New Zealand will also be represented in the wider officials group with Brendon Pickerill named as an assistant referee and Ben Skeen as a specialist television match official (TMO). This will be Skeen's third world cup.

Elsewhere, long-time officials Nigel Owens and Wayne Barnes have both been named for their fourth World Cups.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The legendary Welsh ref was in charge of a schoolboy rugby match at St Peters College in Auckland this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand Rugby's chief rugby officer Nigel Cass congratulated the Kiwi officials selected.

"International refereeing is an elite job and this is an outstanding group of match officials," Cass said.

"To be selected to officiate a Rugby World Cup is the culmination of a lot of hard work and the ability to perform at the highest level. We're really proud to have four New Zealand referees heading to Japan."

Jackson, who has been considered New Zealand's leading ref in recent seasons, had already revealed last week he wasn't selected for the tournament but it wasn't confirmed until this morning.

In an interview with Sport24, Jackson said he had hoped to be headed to Japan but it wasn't meant to be.

"It’s a tough one for me, but we have got a couple of Kiwis going and I hope they do well."

Rugby World Cup referees: Jerome Garces, Romain Poite, Pascal Gauzere and Mathieu Raynal (France), Wayne Barnes and Luke Pearce (England), Ben O'Keeffe and Paul Williams (New Zealand), Nic Berry and Angus Gardner (Australia), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa).

Glen Jackson