Six Nations referees for final matches of 2015 campaign
Whistleblowers who could play pivotal role in the final destination of the championship
French referee Jerome Garces: Given Ireland’s penchant for competing in the air, the recent decisions by Garces may haunt them in Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho
New Zealand referee Chris Pollock: He is thought to be a conservative referee and regularly hands out less penalties in a match than say, Wayne Barnes. Photograph: Inpho
Welsh referee Nigel Owens: He thoroughly monitors the breakdown and scrums and demands the players to listen. Photograph: Inpho
A final day at the Six Nations where all three matches are intertwined, the possible king makers are Kiwi, French and Welsh. A penalty when the scrum goes down, a yellow card or red for a high tackle, or a missed forwards pass could all turn a match by affecting the result or the points.
Last week Argentinian touch judge Federico Anselmi, signalled the decision to referee Wayne Barnes from his vantage point on the blindside of the scrum that Ireland should be penalised in the dying seconds and Wales exploded hopes of a Grand Slam.
But the championship is still alive and the question is will it come down to the blowing of a whistle or the colour of a card?
Scotland v Ireland – Jerome Garces (France)
Ireland occasionally like to play a high-ball game with Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe competing off the ground. Both will remember the calls of French referee Jerome Garces on a couple of dropping balls in club rugby.
The 41-year-old was at the tiller when Ulster faced Saracens last Season in Ravenhill. After four minutes Jared Payne hit Alex Goode as the two competed aerially. It was the Irish centre who drew the red card and Ulster’s defeat is history.
Roll on to Leinster’s 20-20 draw with Wasps in January. Just 17 seconds into the Champions Cup Pool 2 encounter at the Ricoh Arena, Leinster winger Dave Kearney went up for a high ball. Ashley Johnson burst through and took Kearney out in the air in a more deliberately reckless way than Payne did Goode.
Garces consulted with the video referee and showed Johnson the yellow card. Four minutes into the match Kearney is forced to leave injured. Given Ireland’s penchant for competing in the air, the recent decisions by Garces may haunt them in Edinburgh.
Italy v Wales – Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
In 2013, it was Pollock who was chosen for introducing the ref-cam in the Super Rugby. During the derby match between Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs, he had a cam strapped round his head to show a close-up and different perspective to the game.
The 42-year-old was one of three officials who refereed a game in the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, taking charge in the first Test. However, it was there he ran foul of Lions manager Warren Gatland and Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll. Their concern was over how he refereed the breakdown.
O’Driscoll confided afterwards to Gatland that he was afraid to properly compete there because after two penalties – when he believed he was legitimately on his feet trying to rip the ball – he thought next time Pollack might have shown him a yellow card.
He is thought to be a conservative referee and regularly hands out less penalties in a match than say, Wayne Barnes
England v France – Nigel Owen
(Wales) The best loved Owens has always been a great communicator. He will talk to the players, tell them what they are doing wrong and warn them not to continue playing illegally.
He doesn’t fit into the anonymous referee category but Irish players should have good enough memories. Domestically, he is one of only two men to referee back-to-back Heineken Cup finals – Munster versus Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium in 2008 and Leinster versus Leicester at Murrayfield in 2009.
The 43-year-old Welshman was also an innocent bystander in the Bloodgate scandal involving Harlequins and was once at the sharp end of columnist Liam Toland’s tongue two years ago when he awarded an All Black scrum penalty in 76th minute that won them the game.
He thoroughly monitors the breakdown and scrums and demands the players to listen. If they don’t they are pinged. But there’s never any doubt in their minds why he blows because he will always let them know.