Frank Murphy and Mike Adamson will become the first ex-PRO12 players to referee in the competition when they pick up the whistle this weekend.
Former Leicester Tigers and Munster scrum-half Murphy will referee Newport-Gwent Dragons clash with Edinburgh at Rodney Parade on Sunday but not before former Glasgow Warrior Adamson officiates Munster’s game with Treviso on Saturday.
Irishman Murphy made 94 PRO12 appearances as a player for Munster and Connacht and had a spell at Leicester Tigers where he won the Premiership in 2007.
The 34-year-old also started the 2007 European Cup final for Tigers against Wasps and played for Ireland U21’s and Ireland A.
Adamson represented Scotland at sevens and has already refereed on the Sevens Circuit, including games at the Rio Olympics this summer.
The ex-fly-half also has previous experience refereeing in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the Currie Cup in South Africa as well as PRO D2 in France.
World Rugby has longed for more ex-players to officiate in the professional game and the duo follow in the footsteps of ex-Saracens fly-half Glen Jackson who has gone on to referee at the 2015 World Cup.
Richard Haughton, who played on the wing for Saracens and Wasps, will referee on the Sevens circuit for the first time this year and current Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson has been gaining experience in the lower leagues.
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