Nigel Owens is set to become the first person to take charge of 100 tests when the Welshman referees France against Italy in November.
The referee of the World Cup final in 2015 will take charge of two matches in the new competition to reach the milestone, 17 years after his test debut in February 2003 when he was in the middle for Portugal versus Georgia.
Ireland’s Joy Neville will join Owens in making history over the course of the tournament.
The Rugby World Cup 2017 final referee will make history as the first female to perform Television Match Official duties when Wales face Georgia and Scotland take on Fiji in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Both Owens and Neville are past recipients of the World Rugby Referee Award, the Welshman in 2015 and the former Ireland international in 2017.
"If you're the first one to reach that, it's something special" @Nigelrefowens is set to become the first person to take charge of 100 tests when the Welshman referees France versus Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup in November. pic.twitter.com/6ZDuQcCghL
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) September 24, 2020
Speaking on World Rugby's Twitter page, Owens said that referee's don't really chase milestones, but that they are special to achieve.
"When I got my 71st or 72nd cap and became the most-capped referee, when I overcame Jonathan Kaplan, it wasn't something I was chasing," Owens said.
"It was something that you are aware of and something you become very proud of.
"It is very similar with this 100 really.
"If I were to tell you that I didn't really care about numbers, and I think if any referee told you that, then I don't think they'd be very honest with you."
In a statement from World Rugby, chairman Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated Owens and Neville on the achievements.
“On behalf of everyone at World Rugby, I would like to say a big congratulations to Nigel Owens on selection for his 100th test," Beaumont said.
"It is a remarkable achievement and testament to his passion for refereeing, his character, unwavering dedication to the highest possible performance and fitness standards and his adaptability over an impressive career that has so far spanned 17 years.
"It will be a massively popular milestone for the sport to celebrate.
“In addition, we would like to congratulate Joy Neville on her TMO appointments.
"As part of World Rugby’s transformational women’s strategy, we are committed to accelerating development of women in rugby through diversifying and normalising women in leadership positions, both on and off the field.
"Joy, like all the appointed referees, has earned this opportunity and we look forward to watching the referee panel back out officiating the game at the highest level.”
"I'm extremely honoured to be involved at that level" @JoyNevilleRef will become the first woman to perform TMO duties in a major international competition, when Wales face Georgia and Scotland take on Fiji in the Autumn Nations Cup. pic.twitter.com/GtdOvhbNq4
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) September 24, 2020
Neville spoke on the World Rugby Twitter page about her appointment.
"It is probably when I look back when I'm finished that I'll properly comprehend and really understand my achievements," Neville said.
"For now, it is just about going in there and doing a job, and doing it well."
Other notable achievements include former Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson taking charge of his first major test when France play Wales on October 24th.
Former Scotland sevens player and Rio 2016 referee Mike Adamson has also been handed his first major match when England face the Barbarians at Twickenham on October 25th, while Nika Amashukeli will become the first Georgian assistant referee in a major international competition.
Confirmation of the milestones comes as World Rugby announced the selection for matches within the temporary international calendar for 2020, including the rescheduled men’s and women’s 6 Nations, the Autumn Nations Cup and the Bledisloe Cup competitions.
With various travel and quarantining restrictions limiting global movement, match officials will come from regional hubs and will be regularly tested for COVID-19 while following measures that maintain a bubble environment.
This means matches in the northern hemisphere will be officiated by northern hemisphere-based referees, while matches in the southern hemisphere will be refereed by match officials from the southern hemisphere.
In the same statement, the newly-appointed chairman of the selection committee Graham Mourie expressed the importance of the international matches this year.
“This has been a difficult year for society and sport, and therefore these appointments are an important milestone in returning our sport back to normality with much-needed and anticipated test rugby," Mourie said.
“These selections are geographical in nature to accommodate ongoing travel and quarantine restrictions and the officials will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing in line with World Rugby’s return-to-play protocols.
“The selectors have been impressed with how match officials have maintained focus and fitness during the lockdown and in their performance since the restart, particularly in the area of the breakdown.
"Lockdown afforded the group time to recalibrate and refocus on on-field priorities and we look forward to seeing everyone back in action next month.”
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