Referee Honiss set to break world record
PARIS, 19 October - Paul Honiss is on the verge of breaking Welshman Derek Bevan's record of 44 internationals to become the world's most-capped referee.
He will reach the milestone when he takes charge of Friday's IRB Rugby World Cup 2007 bronze final between France and Argentina at Parc des Princes in Paris.
The New Zealander equalled the record number of Tests when he took charge of the Pool C clash between Argentina and Ireland at Stade de France on 30 September.
Since making his Test debut in a Rugby World Cup qualifier between Tahiti and the Cook Islands in 1997, Honiss has gone on to become one of the world's leading Test referees and a key member of the IRB's Elite Referee Panel. Last year he became New Zealand's most-capped Test referee, having overhauled Paddy O'Brien's total of 37 Tests.
"Paul is an exceptional referee and a true professional and has demonstrated this on the world stage for a decade, incorporating three Rugby World Cups," said IRB Referee Manager and compatriot Paddy O'Brien.
"This landmark is credit to his outstanding ability and consistency to succeed at the top level and should be an inspiration to all aspiring match officials. On behalf of the International Rugby Board I would like to congratulate Paul on his remarkable achievement."
Honiss, who has officiated three matches to date at Rugby World Cup 2007, said that he was honoured to be surpassing a record that has stood for six years.
"Derek Bevan is an iconic name in refereeing circles. He refereed in the first four rugby world cups and enjoyed an international career that spanned 26 years. It truly is an honour to be mentioned alongside the great Welshman and one that probably will not sink in until after the final whistle at Parc des Princes on Friday evening."
New Zealand Rugby Union professional rugby manager Neil Sorensen said that breaking the record underlined the career of a referee who had been at the top of the international game for 10 years.
"Paul is rightly regarded as one of the world's top referees and it is fitting that he is on the verge of such a significant milestone at a rugby world cup tournament. This achievement is recognition for his outstanding performances over the last decade."
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