Wed 12 Jun 2019 | 11:46

From Fredy to Jérôme

From Fredy to Jérôme
Wed 12 Jun 2019 | 11:46
From Fredy to Jérôme

Jérôme Garcès, a full-time referee who will be 46 in October, is adding to his illustrious refereeing career with an appointment to his third Top 14 final this weekend – a grand occasion at Stade de France.


It is a match first played in 1892.

The first referee in a final of the French Championat was Pierre de Coubertin, Baron Fredy, the founder of the modern Olympic Games who made it possible for rugby to be included amongst Olympic sports. He was the man who learnt all he could about sport and the spirit of sport from Rugby School. He was 29 when he refereed the final.

A lot of the early final referees were not Frenchmen.

Thomas Ryan, who refereed the second final, was a New Zealander who played for New Zealand on their tour to Australia in 1884. Before that he played for New Zealand against Wellington and goes down in history as the first player playing for New Zealand to kick a conversion and a dropped goal. When he refereed the French Final he was studying art in Paris. He later returned to New Zealand, had a launch on Lake Taupo and was a well-known yachtsman. His nickname was Darby.

Basil Wood was a Welshman with a business at Le Havre where he died in 1937.

Billy Williams was the man who found the famous cabbage patch that became Twickenham. He persuaded the RFU to buy the market garden, which is why Twickenham is sometimes referred to as Billy Williams’s cabbage patch. The ten and a quarter acres cost £5 572 12s 6d. He later became the vice-president of the RFU and died in 1951 at the age of 91. He was a good cricketer playing for Middlesex and the MCC. He refereed the 1904 final and in 1905 he was the centre of controversy when he penalised the All Blacks 12 times in the first half against their “rover” for obstruction at scrums of the 2-3-2 formation.


Cyril Rutherford was born in Sussex and educated at Epsom College. He was twice in the team that won the French Championship, playing for Racing in 1900 and 1902. A businessman in the wool trade, he then became a referee, refereeing the 1905 final and the match between England and France in 1908. He actually played cricket for France. He was at one stage the secretary of the French Rugby Federation and received a Légion d’Honneur. He died in Paris in 1951.

Alan Henry Muhr, whose nickname was Le Sioux, was born in Philadelphia, USA. He served with the American troops in World War II as part of the Red Cross when he was 60, was captured and died in a concentration camp in 1944. He was a Commander of the Légion d’Honneur.

Frank Potter-Irwin, called Potter, was the celebrated referee of his time, refereeing eight Tests between 1909 and 1920, referred to often as the Prince of Referees. He refereed six Varsity matches and was invited to France to referee the final. He died in 1951 at the age of 77.

Jean de Witt was a Frenchman of Dutch descent, a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.


In those amateur days refereeing was usually taken up after playing days. So some of the final referees played for France – Muhr, Mar Giacardy who played in eight finals, five times on the winning side, the last time in 1909, Henri Amand who played in nine finals, four times on the winning side for Stade Français and was 94 when he died in 1967, Charles Gondouin who was on the winning Racing side in two finals and was killed in an accident on Christmas Eve in 1947, Octave Lery, a vet who was awarded a Légion d’Honneur, Jacques Müntz, Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur and Joseph Sourgens who was usually called Pierre,

Robert was a croupier in a casino in Biarritz. Gilbert Brutus, a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, fought in World War I and was a member of the French resistance in World War II and tortured to death by the Nazis.

Charles Durand refereed his first final in 1950 and his last in 1968. He was for years the autocratic boss of French referees, dying in 2009 at the age of 88.

Albert Ferasse was for many years the president of the French Rugby Federation, one of rugby’s most powerful men. He played for Agen in two finals and then refereed one. He was also the president of FIRA (now names Ruygby Europe) and the chairman of the IRB. He was a builder.

Bernard Marie was a politician, at one stage the Mayor of Biarritz.

André Cuny, a medical doctor, refereed just one Test. He was injured during the match and refused to leave the field.

Several of the final referees were railway employees – Roger Austry, Jean Callède, Jean-Claude Doulcet, Francis Galonnier, Marcel Heurtin, André Jasmin, Paul Madelmont, and Marcel Vigneaux.

René Hourquet was France’s refereeing boss. He refereed a second final when Michael Lamoulie,, later an IRB assessor, was injured and he replaced him, the only time it happened in a final.

Didier Mene was elected to succeed Hourquet as referees’ boss in 2009. Two Joëls are much involved in the upper echelons of French refereeing. Joël Dumé is the national director of French refereeing and Joël Jutge, for a while the IRB’s refereeing boss, now runs PRO14 referees.

France’s Final Referees Down The Years

1892: Pierre de Coubertin
1893: Thomas Ryan
1894: Georges de Saint-Clair
1895: Eugéne Duchamps
1896: Paul Lejeune
1899: Paul Cartault
1900: Camille Berthommé
1901: Paul Cartault
1902: Basil Wood
1903: Robert Coulom
1904: Billy Williams
1905: Cyril Rutherford
1906: Allan Muhr
1907: Allan Muhr
1908: Frank Irwin-Potter
1909: Jean de Wit
1910: Paul Meyer
1911: Paul Meyer
1912: Marc Giacardy
1913: Henri Amand
1914: Charles Gondouin
1920: Octave Lery
1921: Robert Dussaut
1922: Gilbert Brutus
1923: Gilbert Brutus
1924: Henri Lahitte
1925: Robert Vigne
1926: Marcel Heurtin
1927: Louis Capelle
1928: Marcel Heurtin
1929: André Jasmin
1930: Henri Lahitte
1931: Abel Martin
1932: Jacques Müntz
1933: Abel Martin
1934: Abel Martin
1935: Abel Martin
1936: Paul Faur
1937: Lucien Barbe
1938: Léopold Mailhan
1939: Paul Berges
1943: Jean Rous
1944: Louis Murail
1945: Lucien Barbe
1946: Jean Callède
1947: Maurice Delmas
1948: Paul Faur
1949: Joseph Sourgens
1950: Charles Durand
1951: Jean Rous
1952: Roger Taddei
1953: Marcel Vigneaux
1954: Roger Taddei
1955: Georges Laffitte
1956: Ange Siccardi
1957: Charles Durand
1958: Fernand Sampieri
1959: Albert Ferrasse
1960: Louis Parrot
1961: Bernard Marie
1962: Raymond Gombeaud
1963: Robert Capelle
1964: Robert Calmet
1965: Bernard Marie
1966: Paul Madelmont
1967: Pierre Lebecq
1968: Charles Durand
1969: Roger Austry
1970: Francis Galonnier
1971: Michel Dubernet
1972: Georges Domercq
1973: André Cluny
1974: Francis Palmade
1975: Jacques Saint-Guilhem
1976: Michel Messan
1977: Gilbert Chevrier
1978: Francis Flingou
1979: Francis Palmade
1980: Jacques Saint-Guilhem
1981: Jean-Pierre Bonnet
1982: Christian Garino
1983: René Hourquet
1984: Jean-Claude Yche
1985: Yves Bressy
1986: André Peytavin
1987: Jean-Claude Doulcet
1988: Michel Lamoulie, replaced by René Hourquet
1989: Guy Maurette
1990: Claude Debat
1991: Patrick Robin
1992: Alain Ceccon
1993: Daniel Salles
1994: Marc Desclaux
1995: Daniel Pascal
1996: Patrick Thomas
1997: Daniel Gillet
1998: Joël Dumé
1999: Gérard Borreani
2000: Didier Mene
2001: Gérard Borreani
2002: Didier Mene
2003: Joël Dumé
2004: Joël Jutge
2005: Jean-Christophe Gastou
2006: Didier Mene
2007: Franck Maciello
2008: Eric Darrière
2009: Jean-Pierre Matheu
2010: Christophe Berdos
2011: Patrick Pechambert
2012: Romain Poite
2013: Jérôme Garcès
2014: Christophe Berdos
2015: Pascal Gaüzère
2016: Mathieu Raynal
2017: Romain Poite
2018: Jérôme Garcès
2019: Jérôme Garcès

Source: Mainly Encyclopédie du Rugby Français by Pierre Lafoind & Jean-Pierre Bodis

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