New Zealand's Walsh to take charge of Croke Park's first Test

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The Independent Online

The New Zealander Steve Walsh will referee the first Test match to be played at Croke Park in Dublin. Ireland's temporary home while Lansdowne Road is redeveloped hosts Six Nations games against France on 11 February and England just under a fortnight later.

The South African official Jonathan Kaplan is the only referee to be awarded two Six Nations games - England versus France at Twickenham, followed by Ireland's match against Italy in Rome.Four referees - South African pair Marius Jonker and Craig Joubert, together with England's Wayne Barnes and the Welshman Nigel Owens - have gained their first Six Nations appointments.

The Rugby Football Union have seen four of their officials awarded Six Nations games in the same season, with Tony Spreadbury, Chris White and Dave Pearson also on the list released by the International Rugby Board yesterday.

Six Nations referees: 3 Feb: Italy v France (W Barnes, Eng); England v Scotland (M Jonker, S Africa); 4 Feb: Wales v Ireland (K Deaker, N Z).10 Feb: England v Italy (N Owens, Wal); Scotland v Wales (A Lewis, Ire); 11 Feb: Ireland v France (S Walsh, NZ). 24 Feb: Scotland v Italy (D Courtney, Ire); Ireland v England (J Jutge, Fr); France v Wales (T Spreadbury, Eng). 10 Mar: Scotland v Ireland (D Pearson, Eng); Italy v Wales (C White, Eng); 11 March: England v France (J Kaplan, S Africa). 17 Mar: Italy v Ireland (J Kaplan, S Africa); France v Scotland (C Joubert, S Africa); Wales v England (A Rolland, Ire).