Irish referee Alain Rolland’s final international before retirement will be a repeat of the infamous 2011 World Cup semi-final between Wales and France when he controversially sent off Sam Warburton.
Rolland, who announced in September he will hang up his whistle at the end of the season, has been given one last Test assignment by the IRB in Cardiff on February 21 when the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions host France at the Millennium Stadium. The French-speaking Rolland became public enemy number one in Wales when he infamously sent-off Warburton for a tip-tackle 10 minutes into the World Cup semi-final between the two teams in Wellington two years ago.
France went on to win the game 9-8 and book their place in their third final against the All Blacks, which they lost.
Rolland didn’t referee another Welsh game until last month, when he took charge of their defeat to South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.
He was inevitably booed before kick-off there, but Warburton had no complaints about meeting up with him.
“Alain Rolland hadn’t refereed a match I’d been involved in at any level since the semi-final against France. He ran the line when we played Italy in 2012 and I shook his hand afterwards,” said Warburton last month.
“What happened two years ago never crosses my mind unless someone brings it up. My tackle technique has changed since then, not as high, and that incident will never happen again.”
Born in Dublin to a French father and Irish mother, Rolland played 40 times for Leinster and won three Ireland caps between 1990 and 1995 before becoming one of the game’s leading officials.
Meanwhile Ireland’s John Lacey will take charge of the opening game of next season’s 6 Nations when Wales host Italy in Cardiff.
South Africa’s Craig Joubert will referee Ireland’s opener against Scotland in Dublin as well as the visit to Twickenham while Wayne Barnes has been chosen for the visit of Wales.
Nigel Owens and Steve Walsh will be on the whistle for the games against Italy and France.
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