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Referee Mathieu Raynal announces his retirement aged 42

By Josh Raisey
Referee Mathieu Raynal gestures during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 9, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Mathieu Raynal has announced that he will retire from refereeing at the end of the season at the age of 42.

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The Frenchman’s decision was confirmed by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby on Tuesday, who revealed on social media his retirement after 350 matches.

Across his 17-year career, Raynal has officiated at two men’s World Cups (2019 and 2023), two British & Irish Lions series, eight Six Nations tournaments, five Rugby Championships and has been the man in the middle for two Top 14 finals. In November last year, he was named the Top 14 referee of the year.

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He has taken charge of 49 Test matches to date, with his 50th coming in the July Test window this year before he retires.

The most recent Test match Raynal officiated was Italy’s 24-21 victory over Wales in round five of the Guinness Six Nations this year, where he was accosted by Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins.

“This sport has given me a lot and refereeing it at the highest level for all these years has been a privilege and a great honour,” he said.

“After 18 years in the professional game and almost 350 games refereed, the end of the season will be time to bring to an end an activity which I have deeply loved and which has given me unforgettable experiences on pitches all around the world.

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“Even if I had the power to do so, I would not change anything in my journey to this point, including, above all, the most difficult moments. Those moments awoke me to the limitless power of courage, fortitude and resilience and they also allowed me to enjoy the good times with even greater relish and intensity.

“I thank my family and my friends, for everything. Thank you to the FFR, to the LNR, the staff at World Rugby, to the players, coaches and my refereeing brothers in arms. The trust, friendship and support which I have received from them during the course of my career are immeasurable and will remain the greatest treasure of my journey.”

Raynal’s former colleague and now boss, World Rugby Elite Men’s 15s Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge, said after the announcement: “I would like to thank Mathieu for everything he has done for the development of international refereeing.

“He has always performed at a high technical level, but he has also been an excellent team-mate for the group of match officials, sharing all the knowledge he has gained over more than a decade at the top to help the less experienced match officials progress on the world stage.

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“Our group always appreciated his strength of character, his convictions, his leadership, not forgetting his unstoppable sense of humour. He was a great part of our organisation. We are certain that he has inspired young hopefuls who will be keen to follow in his footsteps in the very near future.

“He’s a happy man, and I’m delighted. I wish him all the best for his new adventure.”

Speaking to France Rugby, Raynal said (translated by Google): “I’m 43 years old and everything I wanted to do in refereeing, I did it. Three World Cups, a British Lions tour, the Six Nations Tournament, the Rugby Championship… If I continue, it would only be redoing what I have already done.

“I have always wanted to take care of my departure by leaving before I am pushed out and before declining. I think I’ve earned the trust and respect of the players and I don’t want to damage that by doing one or more years too long.

“I think it’s the right time for me to stop, even if it’s a difficult decision because I deeply love what I do but you have to know how to leave room for others and leave at the right time.”

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Comments

7 Comments
R
Red and White Dynamight 120 days ago

Even Raynal didnt know what he would do next.

L
Left Winger 120 days ago

Withut any doubt, one of the best and most astute referees in recent years at the top level. Raynal’s integrity is beyond criticism. The sport of rugby union relies on people of his calibre to administer on-pitch proceedings, which are getting more difficult as time ( and the rules) progress…. he will be a very significant loss to our community.
For those who are quick to criticise suggest you put yourself in their ‘shoes’ and imagine the pressures they operate under, these guys do an amazing job!
But like you and me, they ain’t perfect.

1
15man 121 days ago

The list of things he has missed and incorrectly ruled on has been astonishing … definitely won’t be missed

E
Ed the Duck 121 days ago

The only referee I have ever seen miss THREE red card offences in one game.

Won’t be missed!

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