Owens’ in­jury opens cup fi­nal door to Garces

French­man takes charge of Yoko­hama show­down Eng­land have won 10 of 14 games un­der of­fi­cial

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

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

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