Frenchman Jerome Garces to referee England’s Rugby World Cup final against South Africa despite his controversial role in Wales’ semi-final exit… with Nigel Owens out injured
- Jerome Garces is the man in the middle for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final
- Assistants and TMO for England’s final are from France and New Zealand
- He faced criticism over Wales’ exit – with Nigel Owens unavailable due to injury
- Jaco Peyper will return to duty as an assistant in the third-place play-off game
Jerome Garces will referee the Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa on Saturday – despite criticism of his role in Wales’ semi-final exit on Sunday.
Garces, the first Frenchman to whistle a Rugby World Cup final, is joined by Romain Poite (France) and Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) as assistant referees and Ben Skeen (New Zealand) as TMO – and is picked ahead of injured Welshman Nigel Owens.
Owens, who refereed England’s semi-final win over New Zealand, misses out because of a calf injury he sustained during that match last Saturday.
Jerome Garces has been selected as the referee for this year’s Rugby World Cup final
Garces upset Wales with his officiating in their semi-final defeat at the hands of South Africa
Owens is understood to have picked up the injury during the first half but managed to continue after receiving treatment. The 48-year-old is widely considered as the world’s best referee and had overseen the last World Cup final and the opening match of this year’s tournament.
Garces’ appointment does not come without controversy, after he was widely criticised for his handling of South Africa’s semi-final win over Wales.
Writing in The Times this week, former England ref Rob Debney said that Garces: ‘changed the way he refereed in the final 10 minutes and contributed to South Africa winning it, which is not what a referee should do.’
England have enjoyed a good record with Garces as ref in the Eddie Jones era, losing just twice in seven Tests since 2016.
Those came against New Zealand at Twickenham in 2018, and the Ireland match in 2017 which ended their 18-match unbeaten run.
Garces also officiated England’s 40-16 thrashing of Australia in the quarters.
Nigel Owens misses out on a last match of the tournament after reffing England’s semi-final
He is understood to have injured his calf during the first half of Saturday’s semi-final
Faf de Klerk, the South African scrum-half said of the Frenchman’s appointment: ‘He traditionally is a good ref who is not one-sided at all.
‘We can learn from this weekend, and the first game as well, on how he officiates scrums and mauling. As players we should try and get in his head as much as possible early to see how he wants the game to go to make sure we’re not on his wrong side.
‘It’s going to be a massive contest – we will let him do his thing. If we let him do his job the game should flow nicely.’
For his part, Garces thanked his colleagues as he accepted the honour of officiating the final on Tuesday morning. ‘I am honoured and delighted to be appointed to referee the final,’ he said.
Garces was in charge for England’s brilliant quarter-final victory over Australia in Oita
‘It is a dream as a referee, but this is a team sport, and as a team of four, we will be out there to do the best for the teams, the fans, the sport, but also the entire match officials team, selectors and support team, who have worked so hard over the last four years.’
It will be Garces’ 11th World Cup match, and his 55th test match as a referee.
South Africa have only won two of their last 11 test matches refereed by Garces, although one of them was the 19-16 semi-final victory.
England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of the third-place play-off between New Zealand and Wales on Friday.
South Africa’s Jaco Peyper, who was not considered for the semi-finals after posing with Wales fans mocking his red card decision in their quarter-final win over France, will be one of his assistants, along with Pascal Gauzere of France, with Marius Jonker (South Africa) as TMO.