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University graduate selected as match official for Rugby World Cup final

University of Gloucestershire graduate Matthew Carley has been appointed as a match official for the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, in a landmark moment for a groundbreaking scholarship programme.

Matthew has been named as an assistant referee for the showpiece clash between defending champions South Africa and three-time champions New Zealand at Stade de France on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

The Sport Science graduate was the first person to complete the sports scholarship programme at the University on the officiating pathway – the only one of its kind in the UK.

He will officiate the Rugby World Cup final alongside the experienced match referee, Wayne Barnes, who is originally from Bream, Gloucestershire, assistant referee, Karl Dickson, and Television Match Official, Tom Foley.

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 White said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see the announcement that Matthew, our first officiating scholar from way back in 2004, has been selected as an assistant referee in an all-English team of officials for the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

“We are extremely proud of Matthew and all the hard work he has put in across his career to reach this pinnacle – it’s an outstanding achievement.

“I can still clearly remember his first referee appointment as a University of Gloucestershire scholar in a Wednesday afternoon college fixture, so it’s been a huge journey. I also remember Matthew playing occasionally for the University’s men’s rugby team!

“Matthew is a superb role model for our past and current scholars, who will be excited and looking forward to watching him in the Rugby World Cup final.”

Unique scholarship scheme

Matthew and another graduate of the unique scholarship scheme, Christophe Ridley, were among the team of match officials selected for the Rugby World Cup – the first time two graduates of the programme have been selected to officiate at the showpiece tournament.

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.

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.

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.

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

Main image: Matthew Carley (Credit David Rogers/Getty Images)