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Graduates named as match officials for key matches at rugby union’s 2023 World Cup

University of Gloucestershire graduates Matthew Carley and Christophe Ridley have been appointed as match officials for key fixtures involving many of the leading nations at rugby union’s 2023 World Cup, in a major milestone for a groundbreaking scholarship programme.

Matthew and Christophe were both part of the sports scholarship programme at the University on the officiating pathway – the only one of its kind in the UK – headed up by former World Cup referee Chris White.

World Rugby have named the duo among the team of match officials for the 40 matches that comprise the pool stage of the 2023 World Cup – the first time two graduates of the University’s unique scholarship scheme have been selected to officiate at the showpiece tournament.

They include matches involving defending champions South Africa, three-time champions New Zealand, tournament hosts France and 2019 World Cup semi-finalists Wales.

Sport Science graduate Matthew (pictured above), who was the first person to complete a refereeing scholarship at the University, is the match referee for Wales versus Fiji on 10 September, France versus Namibia on 21 September, and New Zealand versus Italy on 29 September.

Matthew, who was an assistant referee at the 2019 World Cup hosted by Japan, will perform the same role for the matches between Georgia and Portugal on 23 September, South Africa and Tonga on 1 October, and New Zealand and Uruguay on 5 October.

Sports Coaching graduate Christophe (pictured left) has been announced as assistant referee for the match between France and New Zealand on 8 September, Wales versus Fiji on 10 September, Wales versus Australia on 24 September, New Zealand versus Italy on 29 September, defending champions South Africa versus Tonga on 1 October, and Tonga versus Romania on 8 October.

Matthew and Christophe have also been appointed as assistant referees for the second quarter-final on 14 October.

Matthew and Christophe have gained immense experience on the international stage and as established referees in English rugby union’s top domestic competition, the Premiership, since graduating from the scholarship programme at the University.

Chris White, who was a referee at the 1999, 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, runs the referees and officials aspect of the sports scholarships programme at the University alongside his role as the RFU Professional Group of Match Officials Team (PGMOT) Referee coach.

Chris said: “Many congratulations to Matthew and Christophe on their appointments as match officials for pool matches at the 2023 World Cup in France.

“Matthew and Christophe have shown that with a strong work ethic, a determination to improve all aspects of performance, and dedication to being the best you can be, it is genuinely possible to fulfil your dreams.

“They’re both fantastic role models for our other graduates who are officiating at a high level, our young people currently on the scholarship programme and all those who will join us in future years.

“We’re going to be thrilled and immensely proud to watch the both in action, showing why they’re among the best match officials in the world, at the World Cup.”

The University’s sports scholarships help talented athletes, officials and aspiring coaches achieve their ambitions across a wide range of sports, including access to leading experts and current practitioners, and scholars are able to combine this bespoke support with any degree programme.

The University of Gloucestershire is the only university in the UK offering an officiating scholarship alongside studying for a degree. The other pathways focus on athletes and coaches.

Graduates of the programme also include Premiership rugby referee Anthony Woodthorpe, Championship rugby referee George Selwood, Championship football assistant referee Daniel Leach and Jade Wardle, who has officiated in the Women’s Super League, and Lauren Kianchehr, an international Boccia referee and Boccia England Performance Coach.

The University provides sports students with access to a wide range of programmes, expert lecturers, industry placements and graduate opportunities.

Credit for both photos: David Rogers and Getty Images