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Referee Rolland announces retirement

25th September 2013 10:59

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Alain Rolland awarding a scrum

Calling it quits: Alain Rolland

Veteran Test-match referee Alain Rolland has announced his retirement from officiating at the end of the current season.

The Irishman, who played at scrum-half for Leinster and won three caps for his country, cited a new job opportunity and more time with his family as the key reasons for his decision in an IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) statement.

"I have had an incredible journey and over the summer, I have thought long and hard about this - I have discussed it fully with my family and with (IRFU Director of Referees) Owen Doyle, and it just really feels that I am making the right call," said Rolland.

"There are several factors involved which all add up - the Rugby World Cup is fully two years away, I am starting a new job and I want to spend more time with Lizzie and our young family who have been very patient. I cannot thank them enough for their total support over such a long time.

Rolland, to date, has officiated over sixty Test-matches, and roughly seventy Heineken Cup fixtures.

He was handed the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, as well as Heineken Cup finals in 2004 and 2013.

The Irishman notoriously incurred the wrath of Welsh supporters after sending off Sam Warburton in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup for a dangerous tackle, but has been widely regarded as one of the sport's top referees for much of the past decade.

He gave thanks to those who have aided his rise up the refereeing ranks, and feels that the 2015 World Cup will prove to be a resounding success.

"I want to thank sincerely the IRFU, and particularly Owen who has guided and coached me throughout my career.

"When we first sat down to chat about my taking up refereeing I don't think either of us had a clue as to where it would go, although there were definite goals!" he said.

"I would certainly advise those coming towards the end of their playing career to have that same conversation. Thanks are due also to the IRB who have appointed me to so many wonderful and exciting matches all over the world.

"I will finish without one ounce of regret, and my hope is that all present and future international referees will enjoy it as much. Under the guidance of Joel Jutge I am certain also that RWC 2015 will be a great opportunity, and I wish those who will be selected a wonderful and successful time."

Doyle also paid tribute to Rolland's professionalism, and sustained contribution to the sport.

"In the modern era there is yet to be a better referee than Alain. He is always great to work with, bringing the highest levels of professionalism to everything he does,' said Doyle.

"While the World Cup Final in 2007 was perhaps the pinnacle of over 65 International Tests - a quite astonishing number - over 70 European Cup matches, including two Heineken Cup Finals, Alain regards every match in very much the same way - he always feels it a huge honour to be involved, and to do his best to facilitate the game for the players courteously and with an even hand.

"For those who will follow he is the complete role model. We will be very sorry to lose him and, at the same time, absolutely respect his decision and cannot thank him enough for his extraordinary contribution."

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