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Jerome Garces has been selected as the referee for this year

Frenchman Jerome Garces to referee England’s Rugby World Cup final against South Africa ahead of Nigel Owens… despite his controversial role in Wales’ semi-final exit

  • 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
  • Garces faced criticism over Wales’ exit – and Nigel Owens has been snubbed 
  • Jaco Peyper will return to duty as an assistant in the third-place play-off game
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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 Welshman Nigel Owens.  

Owens, who refereed England’s semi-final win over New Zealand, misses out having overseen the last World Cup final and the opening match of this year’s tournament.

Jerome Garces has been selected as the referee for this year's Rugby World Cup final

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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

Garces upset Wales with his officiating in their semi-final defeat at the hands of South Africa

Garces upset Wales with his officiating in their semi-final defeat at the hands of South Africa

But 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.’

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.  

‘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.’

Nigel Owens misses out on a last match of the tournament after reffing England's semi-final
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Nigel Owens misses out on a last match of the tournament after reffing England's semi-final

Nigel Owens misses out on a last match of the tournament after reffing England’s semi-final

It will be Garces’ 11th World Cup match, and his 55th test match as a referee.

South Africa have only won two of its 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.

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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.