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Wayne Barnes (born 20 April 1979) is an English international rugby union referee and barrister. He is a regular referee in the English Premiership, and has refereed games in the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup. At international level, Barnes has refereed matches at the Rugby World Cup, the Six Nations, the Rugby Championship and the Pacific Nations Cup competitions.

Wayne Barnes
2017. (35901630153) (cropped).jpg
Barnes refereeing in 2017
Birth nameWayne Barnes
Date of birth (1979-04-20) 20 April 1979 (age 40)
Place of birthBream, Gloucestershire, England
SchoolWhitecross School, Lydney
Monmouth School Sixth Form
UniversityUniversity of East Anglia
Rugby union career
Refereeing career
Years Competition Apps
- English Premiership
Heineken Cup
European Challenge Cup
Six Nations
Rugby Championship

Early lifeEdit

Refereeing careerEdit

Barnes started playing rugby at the age of eight, and took up refereeing aged 15 with Gloucester & District Referees. At university he transferred to the London Society of RFU Referees.[2] In 2001, at the age of 21, Barnes became the youngest referee ever appointed to the Panel of National Referees.[3] He became a professional referee in April 2005.[2]

Barnes refereed at the 2003 U19 World Cup in Saint-Denis, the 2005 Under 21 Rugby World Championship in Argentina, and was the English representative on the Sevens circuit from December 2003 to March 2005.[3] In 2006, Barnes made his Test debut as a referee, taking charge of three matches in the inaugural Pacific Five Nations.[3]

Barnes was one of three English referees to officiate at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the others being Chris White and Tony Spreadbury. After New Zealand were knocked out of the quarter-final, Bebo profiles were created by some New Zealand fans dedicated to criticism, and abuse, of Barnes.[4] Comments on Bebo and other internet sites, including death threats and personal abuse, were condemned by the International Rugby Board and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.[5][6][7] He was, however, later chosen to referee France vs All Blacks in Paris during their end of year tour.[citation needed]

In the 2008 Six Nations Championship, Barnes became the first English official ever to take charge of a match at Croke Park, in which Wales beat Ireland 16–12. In the 2009 Six Nations Championship, Barnes refereed the final-day decider between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff where Ireland were chasing their first Grand Slam for 61 years and Wales chasing the Championship.

He was appointed in 2008 to take charge of his first Heineken Cup knockout match, between Stade Toulousain and Cardiff Blues at Le Stadium on 6 April 2008. In 2010, Barnes officiated his first Heineken Cup Final between Toulouse and Biarritz at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis, on 22 May.

After officiating at his second Rugby World Cup (in New Zealand) in 2011 and presiding over the third/fourth place play off game between Wales and Australia, Barnes refereed the Heineken Cup semi-final match on Sunday 29 April 2012; Clermont Auvergne v Leinster.[8]

Barnes was one of the officials present at the Pacific Nations' Cup in Japan in 2013.[9]

On 25 May 2013, Barnes refereed the English Premiership final between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints (his fifth English Premiership final), during which Barnes sent off Northampton captain Dylan Hartley for calling him "a f****** cheat"[10]. This was the first time a player had been sent off in an English Premiership final.[11] Hartley's subsequent 11-week ban at an RFU disciplinary hearing cost him his place on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia (their first successful tour for sixteen years).[12]

Barnes was one of 12 referees selected to officiate the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[13]

On 22 December 2017, Barnes broke the all time Premiership appearances record (191) for a referee while officiating Worcester Warriors 23-8 victory over London Irish[14].

He is set to continue his refereeing career during the 2018/19 season and has been selected as part of the 2019 World Cup Referees Panel in Japan[15]. When not on the pitch or working with the England team, Barnes is a practising barrister at Fulcrum Chambers in London.[16]


  1. ^ "Sharples banned for two weeks". This is Gloucestershire. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2016.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Wayne Barnes Joins Elite Referees". 6 April 2005. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2007.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Premiership Referees". Retrieved 29 April 2007.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Ref faces backlash as 'pampered' ABs, not Henry, take the blame". The New Zealand Herald. 8 October 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Death threats outrage refs chief". BBC News. 8 October 2007.
  6. ^ Mole, Giles (9 October 2007). "English ref Wayne Barnes backed after NZ slur". The Telegraph. London.
  7. ^ "Don't blame the ref - Clark". New Zealand Herald. 9 October 2007.
  8. ^ "Archive & Search | News | ERC | Official Website : Heineken Cup semi-final referees". 17 April 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  9. ^ "International Rugby Board - IRB match official panels". 24 April 2013. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Lions 2013: Dylan Hartley set to miss tour after sending off". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Dylan Hartley: Lions hooker misses tour after 11-week ban". BBC Sport. BBC. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Match officials announced for Rugby World Cup 2015". World Rugby. 7 April 2015.
  14. ^
  15. ^ World, Rugby. "World Rugby Officiating". Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Wayne Barnes". Fulcrum Chambers.

External linksEdit