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Cold-shouldered Raynal has been handed an Autumn Nations reprieve

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

French referee Mathieu Raynal has been handed a reprieve following the fallout from his controversial time-wasting penalty in the final minute of last September’s Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Melbourne. The official penalised Australia’s Bernard Foley for time wasting when he had a penalty that he was readying to kick into touch with time almost up at the Marvel Stadium.

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The hotly debated decision handed the All Blacks possession and they soon scored to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, igniting arguments around the rugby world over whether Raynal was correct to be so strict about what he had done.

It was some days later, ahead of the Wallabies-All Blacks rematch in Auckland, when Australia boss Dave Rennie claimed that World Rugby had conceded the crunch call made by Raynal in his team’s loss was wrong.

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“They agreed with our concerns,” said Rennie at the time. “We sought a bit of clarity. We have got that… We have decided to take it on the chin and move on.”

While Raynal kept his appointment as an assistant referee for that follow-up Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park, it was noticeable that he had slipped down the referee pecking order when World Rugby announced its teams of officials for the 40 matches across the men’s Autumn Nations Series programme.

Raynal was just given a single match to officiate, the November 19 game between Romania and Samoa in Bucharest. That low-key fixture was in sharp contrast to the high-profile type of Test matches he was usually appointed for – but he has now been handed an unexpected reprieve for this coming weekend.

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Jaco Peyper, the South African who was in charge for last Saturday’s France versus Australia match in Paris, has reported an injury and his appointment as the referee for this Saturday’s game in Dublin between Ireland and Fiji has now gone to the idle Raynal.

A World Rugby statement read: “World Rugby has confirmed a change to the match officials for the Ireland vs Fiji match on November 12. Mathieu Raynal (France) will now referee the match at Aviva Stadium in the Autumn Nations Series.

“Raynal replaces Jaco Peyper (South Africa), who is unavailable due to injury. The other appointments remain unchanged with Tual Trainini (France) and Jordan Way (Australia) as assistant referees and Chris Hart (New Zealand) as the television match official.”

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