Owens’ injury opens cup final door to Garces
Frenchman takes charge of Yokohama showdown England have won 10 of 14 games under official
Jerome Garces has been appointed as the referee for England’s World Cup final against South Africa, after Wales’s Nigel Owens was ruled out with a calf injury.
Owens, who is widely considered to be the best referee in the world, is understood to have picked up the injury while officiating in the first half of England’s 19-7 semifinal victory over New Zealand on Saturday.
He managed to get through the game after receiving some treatment, but was later diagnosed with a pulled calf muscle and was ruled out of taking charge of his second successive World Cup final. Owens officiated New Zealand’s victory over Australia in the 2015 final at Twickenham.
A similar calf injury forced Owens to leave the field during a Welsh Premiership match between Cardiff and Pontypridd on Sept 8, just before he flew to Japan.
He was, however, passed fit to take charge of the tournament’s opening match between the hosts Japan and Russia.
Garces’s appointment for the biggest match in world rugby will be a boost for England, who have a superb record in Tests in which he has taken charge. England have won 10 of their 14 games refereed by Garces – including their quarter-final win over Australia – whereas South Africa have lost 10 out of 15.
One of the world’s most experienced referees, with 55 Tests under his belt, Garces will be the first Frenchman to take charge of a Rugby World Cup final, in what will be his 11th World Cup match. Garces will be joined by Romain Poite (France) and Ben O’keeffe (New Zealand) as assistant referees, and Ben Skeen (New Zealand) as television match official.
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed to referee the
Rugby World Cup
2019 final,” said Garces. “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.”
England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of the bronze final – as he did at the 2011 World Cup – between New Zealand and Wales at Tokyo Stadium on Friday. It will be his 90th Test match as a referee and his 21st at a World Cup; he was not eligible to take charge of the final given England’s involvement.
Barnes will be joined by assistant referees Pascal Gauzere, from France, and South Africa’s Jaco Peyper, who officiates at a game for the first time since he was censured by World Rugby after posing for a photograph with Wales fans in which he pretended to throw an elbow – a reference to the red card he had shown to France’s Sebastien Vahaamahina in their quarter-final.
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 (European Professional Club Rugby), Lyndon Bray (Sanzaar), Nick Mallett (former international coach) and Alain Rolland (World Rugby). The chairman of World Rugby, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “This has been one of the great Rugby World Cups, perhaps the greatest. Our match officials have played their full role in what has been a special tournament. I would like to congratulate Jerome and the team on their appointments, which are thoroughly deserved and I would like to wish them all the very best for what promises to be a very exciting finale to Rugby World Cup 2019.”
Honour: Jerome Garces will referee the final