Cape Town - Stuart Berry will follow in the footsteps of Nigel Owens and Romain Poite when he becomes only the fifth person to referee the final of the PRO14 between Leinster Rugby and Scarlets in Dublin on Saturday.
The South African referee will lead a team of neutral match officials for the match at the Aviva Stadium, with Marius Mitrea (Italy) and Mike Adamson (Scotland) appointed as assistant referees, while Neil Paterson (Scotland) will serve as the Television Match Official.
Berry, who became the first South African to referee in a major playoff match in northern hemisphere club rugby when he took charge of last weekend’s semi-final between Leinster Rugby and Munster Rugby, joined the PRO14 Elite Referee Squad from Super Rugby after the tournament expanded into South Africa last year.
Apart from his 13 appearances in the PRO14 this season, Berry has also refereed 26 Super Rugby matches and 11 Tests. He made his debut at this level in the third round match between Ospreys and Munster Rugby.
“We are immensely proud of Stuart and we know he will represent South Africa with aplomb in Dublin on Saturday,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“His appointment to the final of the PRO14 is well-deserved and we believe it underlines the fact that our entry into this exciting competition in the northern hemisphere had been a great success.
“We made many new rugby friends from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, and I believe we also made our presence felt in this tough competition, in many ways.
“We’d like to wish Stuart and his colleagues well for Saturday’s game, as well as Leinster Rugby and Scarlets, in what promises to be a great showcase and wonderful end to the PRO14 season.”
Greg Garner, Elite Referee Manager of the PRO14 said: “These appointments are a significant step for the PRO14 in that we can balance the need for neutral officials with capability for our showpiece game.
“Stuart has refereed 13 games in the championship this season which adds to his experience in Super Rugby and at international level.
“We have a number of goals when it comes to our match officials and creating a deeper pool of talent that extends across Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales is one of the top priorities. The addition of South African referees to the PRO14 has provided us with a broader roster to select from and allowed us to name an all-neutral panel of match officials for this weekend.
“It’s very satisfying that in all six PRO14 Final Series games we have appointed fully neutral match official teams because in the past in the past referees have been brought in from England and France to officiate the Championship decider.
“In fact, only one referee appointment in the past eight finals has been non-neutral. Stuart’s selection is great news because he is used to the style of play in the PRO14 and will be more familiar with our finalist teams.”
Championship final referees:
2010: Chris White, RFU (Leinster Rugby v Ospreys Rugby)
2011: Nigel Owens, WRU (Munster Rugby v Leinster Rugby)
2012: Romain Poite, FFR (Leinster Rugby v Ospreys Rugby)
2013: John Lacey, IRFU (Leinster Rugby v Ulster Rugby)
2014: Nigel Owens, WRU (Leinster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors)
2015: Nigel Owens, WRU (Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors)
2016: Nigel Owens, WRU (Connacht Rugby v Leinster Rugby)
2017: Nigel Owens, WRU (Scarlets v Munster Rugby)
Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:30 (SA time)