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Toulon unveil ex-referee Poite as their latest new signing

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images)

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Toulon have unveiled ex-referee Romain Poite as their latest new signing for the 2022/23 season. The club’s push to make this season’s end-of-season Top 14 playoffs ended in a frustrating defeat in Paris at Racing 92 on Sunday night, nine days after they lost the European Challenge Cup final to French rivals Lyon in Marseille.

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The 46-year-old Poite took charge of his last Test rugby match in November when Scotland defeated Australia and his recruitment by Toulon is the latest development in a trend where clubs are signing high-level former referees to help them prepare for their matches.

Jerome Garces, the 2019 World Cup final referee, is currently on the staff of the French national team while Alexandre Ruiz has been assisting the title-challenging Montpellier. Poite will now follow their lead after hanging up his whistle following Sunday night’s Top 14 game between Clermont and Montpellier.

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Poite’s refereeing career spanned 72 Test matches, three World Cup, two British and Irish Lions tours and six titles as the best French referee. He joins Toulon on a two-year deal. A club statement read: “The French international referee Romain Poite has just given his last official whistle at the end of the 2021/2022 season.

“After an immense career which has seen him officiate at three World Cups (2011, 2015 and 2019), numerous Six Nations tournaments, Rugby Championships and of course in the European Cup and Top 14, Romain Poite has decided to embark on a new challenge by joining the Rugby Club Toulonnais in order to support the technical staff.

“Like Alexandre Ruiz in Montpellier, the native of Rochefort will bring his skills to improve the discipline of the XV Rouge et Noir by working in particular on the attitude of the players to comply with the rule. Elected best French referee six times, Romain Poite will have the ambition, in this new role, to accompany the RCT to the heights of French and European rugby.

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“Committed to the Rouge & Noir club for the next two seasons, Romain Poite is joining the RCT campus this summer. He will be an integral part of the staff of Franck Azema and Pierre Mignoni as a specialist coach, in charge of discipline and attitude in contact.”

Poite said: “I’m very honoured to join this great RCT staff from next season. I was delighted with my meeting with the chairman Bernard Lemaitre, with whom we joined in the vision and reflection concerning my position.

“It is also a great opportunity for me to complete this magnificent staff endowed with many excellences and expertise, but also an opportunity to pursue my rugby passion in a new approach. This will allow me to complete my already plethoric expertise with a lot of humility and motivation. ”

Lemaitre added: “The arrival of Romain Poite is an important new stone brought to the edifice that we are building for the coming seasons. He will bring to the staff of Franck Azema and Pierre Mignoni his skills to bring the complexity of the rules into the strategy of matches and their preparation.

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“Romain Poite is one of the very best in his field and will thus constitute an additional asset in achieving the important objectives that we have set ourselves for the coming years.”

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