Who is Six Nations referee Paul Williams, the official in charge of the England v Scotland rugby game?
England host Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday for the Calcutta Cup, a match that will represent the Six Nations opener for the two nations.
Referee Paul Williams will officiate the match, but who is the New Zealander?
Who is the referee for England-Scotland?
Paul Williams returns to the Six Nations after a three-year hiatus, having not taken charge of a championship match since France’s loss to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2020. In that infamous fixture, the New Zealander sent off French tighthead Mohamed Haouas for a punch on Scottish flanker Jamie Ritchie, a move that effectively ended France’s title – and Grand Slam – hopes.
Despite the three-year break, Steve Borthwick’s side know Williams, himself a former scrum-half with Hawera in Taranaki. The 37-year-old refereed England’s series decider over Australia in July, a 21-17 victory against the Wallabies under former head coach Eddie Jones.
Williams leads an all-New Zealand officiating team at Twickenham on Saturday, with Ben O’Keeffe and James Doleman assistant referees and Brendon Pickerill as television match official (TMO).
What is their history?
Having taken up refereeing in 2011, Williams officiated his first Test match in 2017 – Italy versus Scotland in Singapore – and was selected among the panel of officials for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, where he refereed England’s group-stage opener against Tonga.
One of Williams’ most controversial moments came in the 2022 Rugby Championship, where the official yellow-carded South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk for a seemingly faint hand to the face of opposite number Nic White during the Wallabies’ victory in Adelaide.
We know, too, that Kiwi officials are lenient at the breakdown, which will be music to the ears of Jack Willis, Ben Earl, Jamie Ritchie et al. In preparation for the northern hemisphere switch, however, Williams was tasked with overseeing Connacht's United Rugby Championship match against Emirates Lions last weekend.
Who are refereeing the other two Six Nations games this weekend?
Karl Dickson of England will get the championship under way on Saturday as he officiates Ireland’s trip to Cardiff to face Wales. After Telegraph Sport columnist Warren Gatland returns to the Six Nations, Williams will take charge of the Calcutta Cup before Dickson’s compatriot, Matthew Carley, will oversee Italy’s hosting of defending champions France on Sunday.
Unlike last year, each Six Nations match will have a different referee overseeing proceedings, with eight different nations represented in the set of match officials.