Cape Town - With just five weeks to go, World Rugby has unveiled the match officials' kit for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
According to the World Rugby website, the technologically advanced and contemporary kit, produced by Rugby World Cup official partner Canterbury, features a design that plays on the unique story and palette of the Rugby World Cup 2019 look and feel and the jerseys come in three distinctive colours - green, purple and red.
The squad of 23 match officials selected to take charge of the 48 matches at the World Cup, which runs from September 20-November 2 in 12 venues across Japan, are referred to as 'Team 21' - the 21st tournament team.
The squad comprises 12 referees, seven assistant referees and four Television Match Officials (TMOs) representing nine nations.
Just like the players and teams, the World Cup match officials are in intense preparation mode, including a demanding physical fitness regime to ensure they reach Japan in peak condition.
As part of this process the match officials gathered for a training and preparation camp in Nanki Shirahama, Japan from July 11-12. Each match official is undergoing a comprehensive physical monitoring plan, which commenced for the wider group of match officials in January 2016. This includes measures such as GPS information from matches and conditioning sessions, which has shown that on average a referee covers 7km during a Test match.
The match officials' kit has been carefully designed to assist the match officials in their performance. The jerseys have a set-in raglan sleeve construction which provides increased sleeve mobility and flat re-enforced seams to reduce abrasion. They are made in Advantix fabric which is highly durable with a Vapodri finish to keep them cool and comfortable in Japan.
In a departure from previous World Cups the referee camera strapped to match officials' chests will not be deployed in Japan, in favour of the greater mobility and vision offered by the aerial spider-cameras. This further reduces the weight of the kit that the world's top referees are required to wear under their jerseys.
Rugby World Cup 2019 is set to attract the largest number of international fans in the tournament's history with more than 600 000 of the 1.8 million available tickets expected to be held by fans making the journey to Japan to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Two fans are making an extra special trip as they have embarked on a 20 000km 'Race to Rugby World Cup' from Twickenham to Tokyo in aid of World Rugby's principal Rugby World Cup 2019 charity partner ChildFund Pass It Back, which is raising funds to provide life skills through rugby to more than 25 000 disadvantaged children across Asia.
The pair of riders - Ron Rutland and James Owens - are carrying with them a commemorative whistle that will be handed to the referee of the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019 when hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on September 20. For more information visit www.racetorwc.com.
RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 MATCH OFFICIALS:
Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England), Jerôme Garcès (France), Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France), Mathieu Raynal (France), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees (7)
Matthew Carley (England, reserve referee), Karl Dickson (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Alex Ruiz (France)
Graham Hughes (England), Rowan Kitt (England), Ben Skeen (New Zealand), Marius Jonker (South Africa)