Frenchman Jerome Garces has announced that the World Cup final will be his last match as a referee due to his imminent retirement.
Garces was handpicked by World Rugby to officiate in the final between South Africa and England in Yokohama on Saturday, with his compatriot Romain Poite and New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe as the assistant referees and another Kiwi, Ben Skeen, the television match official (TMO).
The appointment did lead to a backlash from several pundits who believed Welshman Nigel Owens should have been appointed for the final instead.
And although reports have suggested Owens suffered a hamstring injury when refereeing last weekend’s semi-final between England the All Blacks, SARugbymag.co.za understands that this played no part in his omission.
It will be the third time that Garces wields the whistle in a match involving the Springboks at this World Cup. He first officiated in South Africa’s opener against the All Blacks, and was also in charge of last weekend’s semi-final against Wales.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 29, 2019
In a statement, World Rugby highlighted Garces’ merit-based appointment.
‘The appointments were made after a comprehensive review of the weekend’s semi-finals by the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee comprising Chairman Anthony Buchanan [council member], Joel Jutge [EPCR], Lyndon Bray [SANZAAR], Nick Mallett [former international coach] and Alain Rolland [World Rugby],’ a statement read.
‘Our match officials have played their full role in this special tournament and I would like to congratulate Jerome and the team on their appointments, which are thoroughly deserved,’ World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont added.
‘I would like to wish them all the best for what promises to be a very exciting finale to Rugby World Cup 2019.’
Garces had previously confirmed that he will hang up his whistle after the World Cup.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images