Legendary English referee Wayne Barnes has announced his retirement from the game of rugby after 20 years of service.
His final match as the man in the middle took place in the Stade de France in front of over 80,000 people, as he superbly supervised the World Cup final.
The incredible scenes in Paris concluded with the Springboks defeating the All Blacks by just one point to take their second consecutive, and fourth ever, title.
Announcing his retirement, Barnes said:
“Over the past 20 years, I have been in the middle of some of the greatest rugby matches in history. I have seen some of the world’s best players and worked with some of the finest coaches the game has ever produced. Last Saturday, I was privileged to referee the Ruby World Cup final between two of the most iconic teams in sport; the All Blacks and the Springboks. 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.
“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.
“My wife, Polly, has sacrificed more than anyone so that I have been able to achieve some of my personal goals. While I have been away most weekends and for decent chunks of the year, she has had to juggle being an amazing mum with two active children, along with holding down a hugely successful career of her own.
“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, particularly as online abuse and threats have become far too regular for all of those involved in the game.
“I am extremely proud that my career has spanned five Rugby World Cups, 26 Six Nations matches, three European Champions Cup finals and 10 Premiership Finals, and I’m grateful for all of those who have helped me along the way, in particular, Chris White, Tony Spreadbury, Brian Campsall, Nigel Yates and Phil Keith Roach.
“It’s been an incredible journey.“
A true titan of refereeing, he will be missed.