World Rugby are on the lookout for a new referees chief after Alain Rolland decided he will step down from his 15s high performance match officials manager role at the end of July after four years. The 2007 World Cup final referee believes the completion of the recent four-year RWC Japan cycle means it is the right time for him to seek new challenges and spend more time with his family.

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Rolland, a former Ireland scrum-half, said: “It has been an enormous privilege to work with such an exceptional team of match officials and staff at World Rugby over the last four years. Collectively, we have always strived to improve, to be the best we can be, and I’m very proud of what the match officials have achieved and grateful for their full support along the way.

“I also appreciated the relationship with the national team coaches based on mutual respect and open communication. They, like us, want to see consistency and ultimately a better game, which has been evidenced through our workshops and joint role in assisting with ongoing law reviews. 

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It has been a challenging but rewarding journey. I have worked with some incredible people, but the time is right to dial back the travel, spend more time with my family and move forward with my new business ventures.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont added: “Alain has been at the forefront of raising the performance bar for match officials, adjusting to law interpretations and amendments and developing a strong team culture along the way, which was very apparent over the last four years culminating in World Cup. 

“I would like to thank Alain for his dedicated contribution and he will be a tough act to follow. He leaves with a tremendous legacy and a superb group of match officials who, I’m sure, will be in excellent shape at World Cup 2021 in New Zealand and Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”

The process to recruit Rolland’s replacement has yet to announced.

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