WALES are desperate for a win as they host Scotland in the Six Nations.
The Dragons were hammered 29-7 by Ireland in their opening match in Dublin.
But in Nic Berry, they’ll have an official many of the players will be familiar with after he took charge of the Lions’ first Test in South Africa this summer.
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Who is Nic Berry?
Nic Berry was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1984.
He enjoyed a fruitful career at scrum-half, where he played for Queensland Reds in Super Rugby before joining French side Racing Metro in 2007 and London Wasps in 2010.
Though never called up for the full Australia side, he represented the Wallabies at the Under-21 World Cup and played for the Prime Minister’s XV against Japan in 2006.
However, he was forced to retire from the professional game in 2013, when he was just 28, after a series of concussions.
After retirement, Berry quickly took to refereeing as he made his Super Rugby debut in 2016 and officiated at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
What happened to Nic Berry in South Africa?
Nic Berry took charge of the First Test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town in July 2021.
His performance provoked fury from the South Africa team and coaching staff as the Lions ran out 22-17 winners.
Berry was accused by the Springboks of treating their captain Siya Kolisi differently to Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Kolisi said: “I didn’t feel respected at all, I didn’t feel I was given a fair opportunity.
Kolisi also referred to a video of Berry appearing to ignore him and continue speaking to Alun Wyn Jones.
He added: “Did you watch the video? Watch it and then we can chat afterwards.
“I don’t really want to get into it to be honest. I don’t want to get involved in that, I just didn’t feel I was given the same access to the referee.
“If you watch the game again you’ll definitely be able to see.”
However, the main controversy was caused by South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who produced an hour-long video documenting every decision he believed Berry to have got wrong.
The video saw Erasmus receive a two-month ban from all rugby for misconduct, with him also being ordered to apologise to Nic Berry.
In his testimony to World Rugby, Berry blasted Erasmus for carrying out a character assassination.
He commented: “Needless to say, the whole situation has been an extremely difficult time for my family and me.
“As a match official, I understand that our performances will be heavily scrutinised, especially in such a prestigious tournament.
“However, the public attack on my integrity and character is not something that should be tolerated in any workplace.
“…I considered officiating in a Lions tour comparable with that in a World Cup. The appointment is an honour which few achieve.
“However, due to the actions of Mr Erasmus, my family and I have endured a significant amount of distress and we will only have negative memories of the whole experience.
“I feel that Mr Erasmus engaged in a character assassination of me on social media.
“I have spent many years trying to build my reputation as an international referee and in the course of his video which was posted online, Mr Erasmus has caused it immeasurable damage.
“Though a small proportion of the rugby community will follow the outcome of this matter, and in the process obtain an accurate account of what really occurred, the wider rugby community will only be aware of me in the context of this incident.
“I feel that regardless of the outcome and any sanctions imposed, my reputation as a referee and person will forever be tarnished.
“Throughout Mr Erasmus’ video, he makes unsubstantiated claims about the incidents that occurred in the 72 hours after the first Test match which I refereed.
“I felt that Mr Erasmus’ video brought into question my professionalism and my integrity as a match official and that there was an inference to be drawn that I was in some way cheating as an official, which is obviously completely untrue.
“My reputation throughout the rugby community has suffered immeasurably from his actions and I acknowledge that the impending investigation will likely lead to more public scrutiny and unwanted media attention.
“However, his actions are against everything our game stands for and I feel it is important to take a stand against such behaviour.
“I sincerely hope that the outcome of the independent judicial hearing will set a precedent to discourage similar behaviour in the future so that no person has to experience what I have these past few weeks.”
The World Rugby judicial committee agreed with Berry’s assessment.
It wrote in its verdict: “There is a human element to this case which we have been concerned not to lose sight of.
“While Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby concentrated their attention on the treatment of Siya Kolisi, it is Nic Berry who was vilified in the Erasmus video.
“We had over an hour to observe and to listen to Nic Berry, as his account was tested and challenged before us.
“We had no hesitation in accepting his evidence. It was measured and he made concessions where appropriate.
“He had no motive to lie, exaggerate or mislead. We were impressed by the quiet dignity, humility, and restraint he showed during his evidence.
“We also accept without reservation that what he endured because of the publication of the Erasmus video has had a profound effect upon him.”