There is no doubt it's the pinnacle of your career as a referee to officiate at a World Cup. I was lucky enough to go to four during my career, while I also took charge of the final in 2015, an experience I will never forget. It meant so much to me personally, but just as importantly it meant a lot to my dad and family and the whole village of Mynyddcerrig.

We’ve always had Welsh representation at the World Cup, with Derek Bevan involved in the first four and Nigel Williams there in 2003, while I went to France in 2007, New Zealand in 2011, England and Wales in 2015 and Japan in 2019.

However, this time around, there will be no Welsh refereeing representative at the men's tournament in France later this year. There will be TMOs and assistants, but no referee. The appointments, announced earlier this week, instead see four referees from England, two Australians, two New Zealanders, a Frenchman, South African, Georgian and a sole Irishman heading to the tournament.

There have been a few comments, including from outside of Wales saying the spread of refs is not fair and things like that, but really it is nothing to worry about. Whether it’s the players or the officials, every country goes through a cycle of change and that’s exactly where we are at the moment.

Even the best rugby-playing nations, like New Zealand and South Africa, have periods where they are not at their best and in Wales, if you look back at the 1970s and more recently the start of the two Gatland eras, there have been these big rebuilding processes - and officiating is no different.

Really, there are no big surprises in the appointments, which are led by the likes of Wayne Barnes and Jaco Peyper. Nobody has been shockingly missed out and, while I would maybe have made a couple of different calls, all 12 are there on merit. What you need to remember is that it’s not just about picking the biggest or most experienced names, there are a few in there who are being taken to referee pool games which will help them to build up their tournament experience ahead of the next one.

While, of course, it should never come at the expense of having the right referees for the right games, having appointments based on merit which also provide this sort of development path is really important.

As long as they are capable of refereeing the matches, it shouldn’t matter what country they are from or which nation got the bigger spread of officials. Saying that, however, I will be interested to see how it will play out if the countries that do have more referees at the tournament end up meeting in the latter stages. England could meet Australia or New Zealand, for example, and that would wipe out half of the referee panel, many of whom are highly experienced officials expected to take charge of the big games.

Whatever happens, I know that the future of Welsh refereeing is bright. We will be represented in some form in France anyway, with Craig Evans going as an assistant referee while Ben Whitehouse has been appointed as one of the TMOs. Congratulations should go to them both for their well-deserved appointments.

Under the guidance of Paul Adams, our national referee manager, we have a referee academy structure in place, through which I look after 12 to 14 young referees and help them with their development, while Craig looks after them from a fitness point of view. It’s all about bringing the next generation through.

Craig himself is in a good position to go to the next World Cup in 2027 as a referee. He has done a few international matches, he took charge of a URC quarter-final this year too, while he’s obviously going to this tournament as an assistant referee, which will give him a lot of valuable experience to build on. He is making great progress and he’s right where we want him to be at this stage in his career.

Obviously, referees who have been around for a long time will likely move on and finish up in the weeks and months following the World Cup and the next generation will start to come through.

As well as Craig, in a group just behind him we have the likes of Adam Jones and Ben Breakspear, both of whom are very well thought of by those in Welsh rugby. We’ve also got Ben Connor, Shaun Connor’s son, who is still very young but will hopefully go to future World Cups. For the 2027 tournament and going forward, we will have referees ready, it’s just about rebuilding at the moment.

To those who are going, however, they are in for a phenomenal experience. I look back on my time as a World Cup referee with very fond memories. It’s the biggest stage in rugby, the atmosphere is always incredible and I definitely will never forget any of the tournaments I refereed at.

Saying that, I’m not envious of them. There isn’t a single bit of me that feels sad that I’m not there anymore and I really don’t miss the politics of it all and everything that goes with the high pressure of officiating the very top matches and tournaments.

I’m really happy doing what I’m doing. I’m still working hard on my farm and took my first bull to a public auction earlier this week, while I’m still enjoying my different roles in rugby. Being involved in the development of the next generation of refs is a huge part of that. No matter what you go on to achieve in life, it's always important to put back into something that you have been very fortunate to get so much out of.