French referee Mathieu Raynal is suddenly enjoying an unscheduled very busy November as he has followed his late appointment for last Saturday’s Ireland versus Fiji game in Dublin by now getting handed the whistle for England versus the All Blacks after Australian Nic Berry pulled out of the game on Tuesday.
The French official had the world of rugby talking last September when he awarded his controversial time-wasting penalty in the final minute of the Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Melbourne. The official penalised Australia’s Bernard Foley when he had a penalty that he was readying to kick into touch with time almost up at the Marvel Stadium.
The hotly debated call handed the All Blacks possession and they soon scored to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, igniting arguments around the rugby world over whether Raynal was correct to be so strict about what he had done.
While Raynal kept his appointment as an assistant referee for that follow-up Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park, he had since slipped down the referee pecking order when World Rugby announced its teams of officials for the 40 matches across the men’s Autumn Nations Series programme.
Raynal was just given a single match to officiate, the November 19 game between Romania and Samoa in Bucharest. That low-key fixture was in sharp contrast to the high-profile type of Test matches he was usually appointed for – but he has now been handed another unanticipated reprieve with Berry marked absent for England versus the All Blacks following on from the absence of the injured Jaco Peyper from the Ireland versus Fiji game.