Barnes heads into Final

Wed, 22 May 2013 16:34

This is fifth Final in six years.


Wayne Barnes, a 34-year-old lawyer from the West Country, has been appointed to referee his fifth Final of England's Premiership, his third in succession when Leicester Tigers play Northampton Saints at Twickenham on Saturday.

His fifth in six years, this Final may not be a novelty but he is honoured by the appointment and looking forward to the great occasion. And he will have great support from his other three decision makers - assistant referees Greg Garner and JP Doyle, who are both referees on the way up, and TMO Graham Hughes.

Barnes and the other three match officials will be wanting to get things right. Like all referees the greatest compliment they can receive is to be ignored - not to be the centre of any controversy. Barnes says: "The aim for us first and foremost as officials is not to be noticed. If we can come away with no one remembering our names then we have probably done a decent job.

"I am sure that Greg and JP will do great jobs in their first Aviva Premiership Rugby Final because they are fantastic referees in their own right, and Graham will do the same."

Hughes may well have a bigger role to play with the wider [powers allowed the TMO by the TMO protocol currently on trial. Barnes is in favour of it. "I am a massive fan of the new TMO protocol. It allows us to get more of the big decisions right. If we have to make big decisions at least we are not doing it with a quick glance. Like everyone else I don't want a game to be decided on an error or a mistake. The players should decide the outcome of the game and this allows us to let them do it and I think it has been a hugely successful implementation this season."

He expects an intense competition. "I have refereed East Midlands derbies between Leicester and Northampton many times and they are always extremely passionate and well contested, especially in the tight five and the scrums and line-outs will be massively competitive. But we also saw in the semi-finals that both sides have fantastic backs as well so it should make for an entertaining game and I will be doing my best to make sure no one remembers I was there come the final whistle."

Barnes started refereeing while at school and is in his ninth year as a full-time referee, well known all around the rugby world.