The expert view on Jerome Garces, the man in control of tomorrow’s showpiece in Yokohama
Composure, self-belief and an ability to stand his ground when the heat is on. There is no way that anything either side says to him will sway Jerome’s decisionmaking. My refereeing philosophy was based on three words – flair, judgment and nerve. Judgment is the ability to tell right from wrong, flair the skill to add colour to the picture in front of you and nerve is the capacity to stay calm in the big moments. Those first two can be taught, but you either have the nerve to referee the big games or you don’t. It is innate. Jerome does and he won’t be overawed by the biggest game of any referee’s life.
He does not mind an arm-wrestle and will allow teams to go at it, which is a plus point for most sides. He is a pragmatic referee who allows the players to determine the outcome, but is brave enough to act if necessary. Someone like
Nigel Owens, for example, will try to unlock the flow of a game and sometimes accuracy can be marginalised if you try too hard. Jerome appears more by the book and more risk-averse.
Communication and decisionmaking
Excellent, considering English is not his natural language. He sells his decisions very well and that is key in a game of this magnitude. Not afraid to make big decisions, as we saw when he dismissed Sonny Bill Williams in the second Lions Test. He is very calm and resolute.
He did not do well enough in the South Africa-new Zealand game on the opening weekend. It was not a disastrous performance, but his accuracy was a little off – frankly, I think it gave him a kick up the backside as he’s been very good since. The semi-final between Wales and South Africa was a poor match, but that was down to how the teams approached it. He held his nerve well, especially in the final 10 minutes.
Four officials stood out in this tournament. Two – Wayne Barnes and Jaco Peyper – are ruled out due to their nations competing in the final. The other, Owens, has suffered an injury. It is Jerome’s last game before retirement and I think he will go out in style.