Jérôme Garcès, the Frenchman in the final

In the absence of players, France will still be represented in the final between England and South Africa. By the referee of the match, a first in nine editions.

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Jérôme Garcès October 19 in Oita, during the quarter-final England-Australia. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

It says with the necessary lucidity: "I would never have evolved at that level if I had remained a player. I did not like tackling, I preferred the interception. " Thus speaks the Béarnais Jérôme Garcès to evoke his referee debut in the French Premier League, the Top 14. So think today … The former amateur player of the Arudyenne Sports Star is preparing to lead a World Cup final England-South Africa, Saturday, November 2, Yokohama.

It will be both a first and a last. The last game of this World Cup. The last match also of this referee, at 46 years old. But also the first final under the direction of a Frenchman, the first summit for a Pyrenean, in nine editions of the World Cup.

The most represented country

With tricolor whistles, there is first a little music that is heard for a few years: that of a rise in range. In 2015, for the first time, three of the twelve leading referees already made France the most represented country at the previous World Cup. Today, the country has retained first place. This time with four representatives in Japan, Mathieu Raynal joined Jérôme Garcès, Romain Poite and Pascal Gaüzère.

"In the past, we have had generations of referees sacrificed, already explained to World four years ago Didier Mené, then president of the Central Referees Committee of the French Rugby Federation (FFR). This form of injustice, I attribute in part to the fact that, "politically", for a while it was more complicated for Frenchmen than for Anglo-Saxons to exist and to be in court in this sport … "

"I feel that the emotions of the referee are comparable to those of the players" Jérôme Garcès

There might be another, more athletic reason for the absence of a French whistle in the final. The rules prevent any referee from leading a match involving compatriots. However, the thing might seem incongruous today, but it happened that the XV of France progresses far enough in the competition: three finals (lost) in 1987, 1999 and 2011.

On October 20, the Blues left the competition in the quarterfinals, as it was four years ago. So, inevitably, "The course of our French referees" gave back " very happy " Bernard Laporte. The president of the FFR said it on the social network Twitter, touting "Their excellence (…) recognized internationally ". Flattering remarks. Especially from a leader suspended thirteen weeks in 2014, while coaching Toulon, for having treated one of them, Laurent Cardona, of " pipe " and D'"Incompetent".

Garcès played back until Federal 2, the fourth national rung. If he started the arbitration, that's "By passion". And after an injury as a player, to be complete: fracture of the scaphoid, in his twentieth year. "I think the referee's emotions are comparable to those of the players"he assures the regional daily The Republic of the Pyrenees.

For the referee, professionalisation comes in 2010, four years after his first whistle in the French league. He previously worked in Bordes (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), as an employee of a gas turbine manufacturer for helicopters.

A petition

"Jérôme Garcès is one of the best referees of the moment," now thinks South African assistant coach Mzwandile Stick. Even before the start of the World Cup, he had called for "Equal treatment" for the first round match between South Africa and New Zealand. As if the arbitration Garcès between the two teams had left something to be desired in the semifinals of the previous World Cup in 2015.

On the Internet, a week ago, a petition collected even 13,000 signatures to ask to withdraw the French right to lead the new semifinal of South Africa (finally won) against the Welsh.

This summer, The world had already requested an interview with the person concerned. No response from him. In 2018, the English monthly Rugby World had been luckier. In a questionnaire, the referee paid tribute to the fun of Robert Wurtz, famous football whistle. As for the three personalities he would invite to dinner if he had the opportunity, he replied: Zinedine Zidane, Anne Roumanoff and Thomas Pesquet. Meanwhile, he will already have to spend the evening of November 2 with fifteen English and as many South Africans on a plot of Yokohama.


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