Who is Mathieu Raynal?
Born in Perpignan in the heartlands of French rugby, Raynal has been refereeing professionally since 2006, and in the Top 14, France’s top tier, since 2007. The 39-year-old played for the professional club of his hometown, USA Perpignan, in the late 1990s, winning a junior French championship in the process.
In 2013, he suffered an horrendous leg break in a Top 14 match between Racing 92 and Montpellier, double-fracturing his tibia and fibula. He was out of the game for a year, making his return in a Top 14 match in February 2014, before returning to international rugby in 2014.
What’s his track record?
Raynal has been refereeing international Test matches since 2009, when he took charge of Malta’s clash with the Netherlands. His first taste of high-profile international officiating came in 2011, however, when he was appointed to four matches for the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship in Italy.
A year later, he was appointed for his first ‘Tier One’ fixture, as he was the man with the whistle for Scotland’s autumn clash with Tonga in Aberdeen. This appointment came a week after he was a touch judge for England’s narrow loss to Australia at Twickenham.
He was also on the panel of officials for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
How much recent experience do the two teams have with him?
Ireland certainly crossed paths more frequently with Raynal of late than England. The Frenchman refereed Ireland’s victory over Italy in Rome in Round Three, which was not without controversy despite the Irish running out as comfortable victors.
In the first-half, the outstretched arm of Ireland lock Iain Henderson looked to have grounded the ball on the Italy line, but Raynal waved play on. His TMO, Romain Poite, concurred with his compatriot’s decision, and Italy were able to clear. It was not until the incident was replayed on the big screen that Ireland captain Johnny Sexton protested to the Frenchman. Replay footage suggested that Henderson had grounded the ball initially, before it spurted away from him after downward pressure was applied.
Both Sexton and Henderson were waved away, however, as Raynal said to Ireland’s captain: “You can ask me questions and I will give you the answer. We checked in the background. My TMO has checked and he says [Henderson] has lost control of the ball. Thank you very much. End of discussion.”
Raynal was also on the touchline for Ireland’s victory over Scotland at Murrayfield in Round Four.
England, on the other hand, have not been refereed by Raynal in this year’s championship, although he was an assistant referee when Eddie Jones’s side were felled by Scotland at Twickenham in the opening round.