SYDNEY South African referee Craig Joubert, who took charge of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, has decided to retire from officiating the 15-man game and take up a role with governing body World Rugby.
The 39-year-old from Durban, who has refereed 69 tests since 2003, will continue to take charge of sevens matches in addition to his job as World Rugby's Referee Talent Development Coach.
"This was not a decision I took lightly given the obvious lure of possibly refereeing the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next year as well as the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019," he said in a World Rugby statement.
"However, the opportunity to make a difference in other peoples' careers and lives is something which I'm excited about. It really is a dream job.
"This position gives me the opportunity to play a more formal role in sharing my experiences and developing referees and to have a positive influence on the lives and careers of other young referees."
Like most test referees, Joubert's career has not been with controversy and World Rugby last year said he was wrong to have awarded a decisive last-minute penalty to Australia in their World Cup quarter-final against Scotland.
He was also criticised in some quarters for not awarding a penalty against New Zealand in the latter stages of the 2011 World Cup final as France hammered away at the All Blacks defensive line looking to overturn a one-point deficit.Canterbury Crusaders fans were likewise unhappy at a penalty he awarded in the late stages of the 2014 Super Rugby final - one of three he took charge of - which the New South Wales Waratahs converted to win the title.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)