The group of 19 match officials from 14 nations will take charge of a total of 84 matches over the three day event from 20-22 July in what promises to be spectacular and ground-breaking men’s and women’s tournaments.
The highly experienced team of 10 match officials who will preside over 52 matches in the 24-team men’s competition are: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales), Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Damon Murphy (Australia), Jeremy Rozier (France), Matt Rodden (Hong Kong), Richard Haughton (England), Damian Schneider (Argentina), Mike O'Brien (USA).
The 16-team women’s event, which involves 32 matches, will be officiated by a team of nine experienced referees: Alhambra Nievas (Spain), Joy Neville (Ireland), Sara Cox (England), Adam Jones (Wales), Ben Crouse (South Africa), Sakurako Kawasaki (Japan), Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand), Beatrice Benvenuti (Italy).
The match officials team includes seven women, including Neville who was honoured with the Referee Award at the World Rugby Awards in November 2017. Meanwhile Rasivhenge and Nievas previously refereed the men’s and women’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games rugby sevens gold medal matches respectively.
Several match officials have successfully transferred their skills and knowledge of the game as players to again reach the pinnacle of the sport as referees. Mahoney is a double Women's Rugby World Cup winner with New Zealand, Haughton won a 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medal with England and was one of the quickest players of his generation, while Murphy also represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, finishing in fourth place.
World Rugby’s High Performance Sevens Referees Manager Paddy O’Brien said: "The Rugby World Cup Sevens only comes around once in every four years and is a major highlight of the rugby sevens calendar. Just like the players, our team of highly experienced match officials are preparing themselves both mentally and physically, ready to play their part in what is destined to be an outstanding showcase of rugby sevens in an iconic venue.”
The event is capturing the public’s imagination with over 60,000 tickets already sold and an innovative competition format meaning every match counts. The match schedule is due to be announced soon and fans are urged to snap up their tickets now to avoid disappointment. Three-day passes (there is also a ticket exchange mechanism) can be purchased or fans can buy via the official domestic and international supporter tour programmes.