Meet Mathieu Raynal, the controversial referee, who will oversee the highly anticpated and highly charged Calcutta Cup match which will have a signifcant bearing on the destination of the Six Nations championship.
He’s the new boy
Today’s Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham is Raynal’s first taste of the Six Nations Championship.
He’s a little unlucky
Officiating a French Top 14 match between Racing 92 and Montpellier in 2012 the referee was felled and broke both tibia and fibula in one leg, twisted an ankle and broke his collarbone so he couldn’t even use crutches. Eighteen months later he hobbled off the field halfway through a Munster v Sale European tie.
He’s not afraid to show a red card
Raynal sent off French scrum-half Maxime Machenaud in the final of the Top 14, 2016 for a tip tackle on Matt Giteau. He also red-carded CJ Stander when the Irish flanker hit Patrick Lambie high and late last June. (Oddly Leicester’s Matt Toomua escaped with a yellow from Raynard when upending Finn Russell at Scotstoun).
He makes mistakes
It was Raynal that Connacht captain John Muldoon persuaded to allow his team to kick for an attacking lineout after the 80 minutes was up, arguing that the laws had changed. Raynal allowed the lineout, Connacht scored a try to beat Wasps who were seriously unimpressed. The law does change… but not until August of this year.
He is good news for the underdog
Most referees blow for what they expect to see rather than what they actually see, hence the higher ranked team usually gets the rub of the referee’s whistle. Not so with Raynal who officiated Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago and their win over South Africa at Newlands last June.