Referee: George Clancy
We look at the career of World Cup referee George Clancy.
A relative newcomer to Test rugby, George Clancy has swiftly established himself amongst the game's elite referees and will be making his Rugby World Cup debut this year.
After playing as a full-back or fly-half in his native Ireland with Bruff RFC, Clancy's first game as a referee came when he was 23, an Under-15s match between Garryowen and Richmond in October 2000 which remarkably finished 0-0.
The civil servant continued to officiate and just over three years later he took charge of his first Magners League game before refereeing at the Under-19 and Under-21 World Cups, as well as on the Sevens circuit, in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
His first international match came in September 2006 as Uruguay faced the USA and in April 2008 he joined fellow Irishmen Alain Rolland and Alan Lewis on the International Referee Panel.
Clancy angered Scottish fans by allowing France to score what seemed to be an illegal try, which clinched a 22-13 victory, and in 2010 he sin-binned Phil Godman for an alleged off-the-ball trip on Lee Byrne, which played a big factor in Wales winning 31-24.
The International Rugby Board were clearly convinced of Clancy's ability to perform at the top level, though, as he was handed 11 international matches between February 2009 and February 2011 – including France's historic win in New Zealand in 2009 and South Africa's Tri-Nations trip to Brisbane in 2010.
However, his first real moment of high-profile controversy came in the 2010 Heineken Cup quarter-finals when even the Biarritz coach Jean-Michel Gonzalez admitted Ospreys should have been given a last-minute penalty in front of the posts for a deliberate knock-on by Dimitri Yachvili.
Biarritz won 29-28 before going on to reach the final, but Clancy was handed this year's semi-final between Northampton and Perpignan. In the same week it was announced he would have the honour of refereeing the opening game of this year's Rugby World Cup, when an expectant home crowd will watch the hosts and favourites New Zealand take on Tonga.
This year Clancy also refereed the Amlin Challenge Cup final between Harlequins and Stade Francais and the Tri-Nations game between South Africa and New Zealand in August.
After taking charge of the RWC opener, Clancy has three more pool matches – Scotland-Georgia, Italy-USA and South Africa-Namibia.