Love them or loathe them, without referees, there would be no game of rugby union.
As a result, RUCK asked fans to debate who are the best rugby referees in the world.
Of course, criticism of officials often comes with the territory, but every so often, a referee has a game that makes the sport’s fraternity stand up and take notice.
Here are, according to fans, the five best rugby union referees at present.
#5. Mathieu Raynal (France)
Born in Perpignan, France, in 1981 Mathieu now officiates at the highest level of rugby and is on the World Rugby Referees Panel, returning as a referee for his second World Cup appearance as a referee.
Before refereeing Mathieu played locally and was part of the successful junior team that won the junior championships in France.
His refereeing career started in 2001 when he joined a local referees society. Mathieu was promoted from refereeing amateur rugby matches to the second division of France’s professional rugby structure in 2006, and quickly moved onto his first professional game as a match official between Grenoble and Toulon.
Mathieu’s first Test Match was between Malta V Netherlands in 2008 at the European Nations Cup, with his first Tier One fixture in 2012 – an Autumn international between Scotland and Tonga.
In 2022 Mathieu oversaw the Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand.
At the time of writing, to date Mathieu has overseen 36 test matches including fixtures at the Six Nations and the 2019 World Cup where he refereed South Africa V Namibia, Australia v Uruguay, and Scotland v Russia.