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Top 14 exchanges

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The seven matches in Round 8 of France's Top 14, the top club competition in France, will all be refereed by referees from other countries.

France have done this before. It is the innovation of their referee boss, Didier Mene.

French referees will be going to other countries on exchange. In fact this weekend Mathieu Raynal of France will referee the match between London Irish and Northampton Saints in England's Premiership.

Mene said that the day was chosen with three goals in mind. Such exchanges give referees exposure and experience but this specific day has added value. Mene says: "The choice of this day to carry out these exchanges is a deliberate choice, on the eve of the European cups - to help our [i.e. French] clubs in to best prepared for the competition. On the other hand, this allows the referees of each of the nations of Europe to discover other cultures and ways of playing. That helps to make European and French refereeing stronger."

The matches and referees concerned are:

Castres vs Clermont: JP Doyle (England)
Biarritz vs Toulon: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Bayonne vs Agen: Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
Grenoble vs Perpignan: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Racing-Métro vs Montpellier : Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Mont-de-Marsan vs Stade Français: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Bordeaux vs Toulouse: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

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