In 2019, France was in the final of the Rugby World Cup. Not his players, eliminated in the quarterfinals, but his arbitration: Béarnais Jérôme Garcès was on the whistle for the last match of the competition, which saw South Africa beat England (32-12).
Certainly, the presence of the XV of the Rose had mechanically dismissed the Englishman Wayne Barnes, the best official in the world. The presence of the Frenchman, isted on the sidelines by a compatriot, Romain Poite, still sounded like a consecration. Especially since, throughout the tournament, there were five tricolor field referees – the first contingent.
Four years later, French refereeing performance followed an opposite trajectory to that of the XV of France. For the World Cup organized at home (from September 8 to October 28), only one field referee has been selected by the organizer, World Rugby: Mathieu Raynal, as main referee. He will be accompanied by Pierre Brousset, chosen from among the line referees.
“A very big disappointment”, and even ” a misunderstanding “, had gritted, during the announcement of these appointments, Franck Maciellothe head of refereeing at the French Rugby Federation (FFR), regretting the absence of several high-level French officials. “It is not because the World Cup takes place in France that there are free pes”, Joël Jutge had answered themboss of World Rugby referees – and predecessor of Mr. Maciello at the FFR.
A long-awaited succession
World Rugby is a pool of international referees three years before the start of the competition, and the group for the 2023 World Cup did include several French people. Except that in the meantime two of them have chosen to abandon the whistle. This is the case of Alexandre Ruiz, who joined the staff of the Montpellier club in 2021 before taking the reins of Soyaux Angoulême, and Pascal Gaüzère, converted into human resources. Career changes that took the tricolor authorities by surprise. At the same time, Romain Poite, on the sidelines of the 2019 final, was pushed into international retirement by World Rugby in 2022. Thus, at the time of the selection of referees, the ranks were very thin.
And, behind this elite of referees on the start, the next generation is not quite ready. “Today, we are rather in a hollow, with many young referees who are reaching the highest level, but who do not yet have the one required for a World Cup”recognizes Jean-Marc Lhermet, vice-president of the FFR delegated to the high level and to the arbitration.
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