Garces to get first go as final referee

TOKYO • Referee Jerome Garces will take charge of Saturday's Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa, the first time a Frenchman has officiated the sport's showpiece match.

Governing body World Rugby yesterday announced the appointment of the 46-year-old, who has refereed 55 Tests, including 11 World Cup games.

The Springboks will, however, hope there is no omen in the fact that Garces was in charge for their most embarrassing defeat - the famous "Miracle of Brighton" loss to Japan at the 2015 Cup.

He was also the target of an online petition by South Africa fans last week, with 13,000 signatures calling for his removal as the match official for their semi-final with Wales.

Compatriot Romain Poite, and Ben O'Keeffe of New Zealand have been appointed as assistant referees while Kiwi Ben Skeen will be the TV match official.

Saturday's final will be the last match Garces will officiate as he is stepping down at the end of the tournament to take charge of French rugby's governing body for referees.

Calling it "a dream", he added: "I am honoured and delighted to be appointed to referee the Rugby World Cup 2019 final."

Meanwhile, Jaco Peyper, who had to apologise when he was snapped re-enacting a red-card incident after Wales' quarter-final win over France, was named as a touch judge for Friday's third-place play-off between New Zealand and the Welsh.

The South African was not selected for refereeing duties for the semi-finals after a photo of him posing with Wales fans while holding out his right elbow went viral.

He had sent off France's Sebastien Vahaamahina for elbowing Aaron Wainwright, with the Welsh going on to win their quarter-final clash.

Peyper was later forced to issue a statement in which he admitted the picture was "inappropriate", but appears to have since earned a reprieve.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Garces to get first go as final referee'. Print Edition | Subscribe