Ryan and Lancaster not being sidetracked by the Garces factor
Leinster camp fully aware of the French referee’s particular style in advance of cup final
Jérôme Garcès in action during the Saracens versus Munster clash. The French referee is known for his liberal officiating of the breakdown. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
French referee, Jerome Garces will take charge of Leinster’s European Champions’ Cup final against Saracens in St James’ Park. That will require some adjustment from the Leinster players. Not enough, they agree, to cause anxiety. But some thought is required.
Calling out a referee for his tendencies to officiate in a certain way is rarely a fruitful position to adopt before a final. But Garces is known for letting play develop at the breakdown. In Munster’s defeat to Saracens in the Ricoh Arena semi-final, Garces received complaints that the breakdown had become a free for all.
So Leinster are not going in blind.
“Yeah, he probably referees a bit different to some refs,” says James Ryan. “But Saracens get most of their turnovers not on the ground but from reefs, from big dominant tackles. That as opposed to poaches.
“That’s why we are going to need to be direct this week because if they are dominating us on the gain line you can forget about the reffing or how he sees the pictures. It’s not going to matter.”
Stuart Lancaster is also aware of Garces’ style. And also that Saracens are the best defensive team in England having only conceded three tries in the knockout phase so far. Even before scoring of tries Leinster, cannot afford to allow Owen Farrell begin to build a score. In that the reading of Garces is pivotal.
“It’s all about us understanding what he is looking for and abiding by that,” says Lancaster. “It is as simple as that. If we start giving away dumb penalties at the ruck or whatever, then Owen Farrell is good enough to kick them from up to halfway and they can go three, six, nine points [ahead]. That’s exactly what Saracens want. They can control the game and build pressure and then you start chasing the game.”
While Leinster are going for an unprecedented fifth championship win and Saracens their third win in four years, it is the first time officiating in a Champions Cup final for the Frenchman.
Garces has previously controlled three European Challenge Cup finals, but never before the European showpiece. It was a surprise he was awarded the final ahead of Nigel Owens following the perceived laissez-faire approach at breakdown.
“It’s something we look at, the referee, coming into every game so it’s something we will be aware of,” added Ryan.
“I don’t think we ever overanalyse the officials. I think if we get our stuff right, if we paint the right pictures the rest will look after itself. We’re conscious of it. But if we get our bits right, our attack right, our breakdown, then it shouldn’t be a problem.”
It was Garces who handed Ulster’s Jared Payne a straight red card for a fourth -minute aerial collision with Saracens’ Alex Goode when the sides met in the 2014 Heineken Cup quarter-final in Belfast and he was also in the middle for Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final exit against Argentina in 2015.