Referee Barnes blows final whistle on stellar career

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English referee Wayne Barnes called time on his officiating career on Thursday and bows out having taken charge of a record 111 tests, including the recent World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand in France.

The 12-11 victory for the Springboks was a record 27th World Cup match for Barnes spread over five tournaments, having been involved in 206 tests in all as a referee, assistant referee and Television Match Official.

“People often say you will know when it is the right time to retire, and this is clearly the right time for me and for my family,” Barnes said in a statement.

“My children have missed out on time with their dad for far too long and I am now looking forward to family weekends, sports matches, school assemblies and birthday parties.”

Barnes, who is a barrister by trade, and his wife reportedly received online abuse in the wake of Saturday’s decider in Paris.

“I will continue to advocate for referees and work closely with the International Rugby Match Officials Association to ensure match officials across the globe not only have a collective voice but also the appropriate support network for them and their families,” he said.

“Particularly as online abuse and threats have become far too regular for all of those involved in the game.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont led the tributes to Barnes.

“Refereeing is a tough job, perhaps the toughest in sport,” Beaumont said.

“It takes a special person with passion, dedication and a support network around them to be so good for so long, to referee 111 tests and to earn the respect of players, coaches and fans alike.”