Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Referee short on time for big test

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Jerome Garces. Photo / Getty Images
Jerome Garces. Photo / Getty Images

Jerome Garces. Know the name? Got any bully on the man? His name jumped out at me in the latest list of international refereeing appointments for the November internationals in Europe.

The IRB has sent out the list of referees who will take charge of the bulging programme of 35 internationals.

Garces is down to rule on a potentially world-record winning test for the All Blacks when they begin their Northern Hemisphere tour against Scotland.

Does he have the credentials? I checked. Garces, from France, was an assistant in four games at the World Cup, including the All Blacks match against Japan.

Several months earlier he had been widely criticised for sending off two American players in their mid-year test with Italy. A few months after the World Cup he was involved in what coaches and commentators described as a "pantomime" performance in a match between Ospreys and Saracens. Bodes well, doesn't it?

Referees need to be encouraged. Goodness knows the game is desperate for more men and women of calibre, understanding and perception to be involved. However, they need to work through a decent sort of apprenticeship to allow them to cope with the sort of dramas which can unfold when heavyweight nations compete.

The 38-year-old Garces may be heading north in his career but a few Junior World Championship games, Heineken Cup and French club rugby do not sound the strongest credentials.

Not even a 20-minute stint as an injury replacement in a test between England and Scotland and control of England and Italy in the Six Nations.

Looking on the bright side, though, as Eric Idle would warble, the All Blacks then have the more senior contributions from Alain Rolland, Craig Joubert and George Clancy to contend with for their tests against Italy, Wales and England.

And next Saturday in Brisbane, the All Blacks and Wallabies will have Joubert in charge of a match in which the visitors are seeking to equal a tier one test record-winning sequence.

Joubert had a curious performance last week in Rosario when he seemed to abdicate decisions in the Pumas match with the Wallabies.

But whatever you think of Joubert, he has refereed plenty of top-grade games and understands the tensions and rhythms of those matches.

Garces? Who'd know, but the IRB seems confident.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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