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Garcès for the Top 14 Final

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Jérôme Garcès will referee the Top 14 final between Montpellier and Castres at Stade de France on Saturday. It is the former fullback's second Top 14 final.

By Paul Dobson, Moonsport

It is one of rugby's grandest occasions. Winning the Bouclier de Brennus is a passport to much enjoyment for the winner and Stade de France will be full.

(The trophy dates back to 1892 and is named after the man who made it, Charles Brennus, from an idea of Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics and the referee of the first champion at final in 1892)

Supporters at the match are at opposite ends of the field to prevent any clashes for it is an emotion-charged occasion.

Out in the middle will be athletic Graces, whose previous final was in 2013 when Castres beat Toulon before 80 000 people.

The year before Romain Poite had refereed the final. This year Garcès again follows Poite. Last year Clermont Auvergne beat Toulon in the final. This year neither is in the final.

For Montpellier, it is their second final after losing to Toulouse in 2011. Castres have been in six finals, winning four of them.

For 44-year-old Garcès, of course, it is a great honour to referee such a match. Not that he is a stranger to top matches. After all, he has been to two Rugby World Cups, has refereed Six Nations and Rugby Championship matches, plus over 50 matches in European Professional Club Rugby's top competitions including two Challenge Cup finals, Pro 14 matches and, of course, Top 14 matches including matches involving both of this year's finalists.

For South Africans, he is well known as the referee in Brighton when Japan beat the Springboks and in the semifinal of the same World Cup when the Springboks and the All Blacks met. Then last year he was the referee at Newlands when rugby's greatest rivals met in a thrilling encounter.

He has refereed Australia vs England at Twickenham and this year England vs Wales at Twickenham, a great rivalry that. In 2011 he had an unusual experience.

He was on touch for Romain Poite in the oldest international of all, Scotland vs England for the Calcutta Cup, the world's oldest rugby trophy. Poite was injured that day at Twickenham and Garcès took over from his compatriot to referee the match.

Poite will be running the line at Stade de France on Saturday.

2018 Top 14 Final Match Officials

Montpellier vs Castres at Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Laurent Cardona
Television match official: Éric Briquet-Campin

France's Final referees Down the Years

Much of the information here was gleaned from the encyclopédie du rugby français by Pierre Lafond and the late Jean-Pierre Bodis,

1892: Pierre de Coubertin
1893: Thomas Ryan
1894: Georges de Saint-Clair
1895: Eugéne Duchamps
1896: Paul Lejeune
1899: Paul Cartault
1900: Camille Berthommé
1901: Paul Cartault
1902: Basil Wood
1903: Robert Coulom
1904: Billy Williams
1905: Cyril Rutherford
1906: Allan Muhr
1907: Allan Muhr
1908: Frank Irwin-Potter
1909: Jean de Wit
1910: Paul Meyer
1911: Paul Meyer
1912: Marc Giacardy
1913: Henri Amand
1913: Charles Gondouin
1920: Octave Lery
1921: Robert Dussaut
1922: Gilbert Brutus
1923: Gilbert Brutus
1924: Henri Lahitte
1925: Robert Vigne
1926: Marcel Heurtin
1927: Louis Capelle
1928: Marcel Heurtin
1929: André Jasmin
1930: Henri Lahitte
1931: Abel Martin
1932: Jacques Müntz
1933: Abel Martin
1934: Abel Martin
1935: Abel Martin
1936: Paul Faur
1937: Lucien Barbe
1938: Léopold Mailhan
1939: Paul Berges
1943: Jean Rous
1944: Louis Murail
1945: Lucien Barbe
1946: Jean Callède
1947: Maurice Delmas
1948: Paul Faur
1949: Joseph Sourgens
1950: Charles Durand
1951: Jean Rous
1952: Roger Taddei
1953: Marcel Vigneaux
1954: Roger Taddei
1955: Georges Laffitte
1956: Ange Siccardi
1957: Charles Durand
1958: Fernand Sampieri
1959: Albert Ferrasse
1960: Louis Parrot
1961: Bernard Marie
1962: Raymond Gombeaud
1963: Robert Capelle
1964: Robert Calmet
1965: Bernard Marie
1966: Paul Madelmont
1967: Pierre Lebecq
1968: Charles Durand
1969: Roger Austry
1970: Francis Galonnier
1971: Michel Dubernet
1972: Georges Domercq
1973: André Cluny
1974: Francis Palmade
1975: Jacques Saint-Guilhem
1976: Michel Messan
1977: Gilbert Chevrier
1978: Francis Flingou
1979: Francis Palmade
1980: Jacques Saint-Guilhem
1981: Jean-Pierre Bonnet
1982: Christian Garino
1983: René Hourquet
1984: Jean-Claude Yche
1985: Yves Bressy
1986: André Peytavin
1987: Jean-Claude Doulcet
1988: Michel Lamoulie, replaced by René Hourquet
1989: Guy Maurette
1990: Claude Debat
1991: Patrick Robin
1992: Alain Ceccon
1993: Daniel Salles
1994: Marc Desclaux
1995: Daniel Pascal
1996: Patrick Thomas
1997: Daniel Gillet
1998: Joël Dumé
1999: Gérard Borreani
2000: Didier Mene
2001: Gérard Borreani
2002: Didier Mene
2003: Joël Dumé
2004: Joël Jutge
2005: Jean-Christophe Gastou
2006: Didier Mene
2007: Franck Maciello
2008: Eric Darrière
2009: Jean-Pierre Matheu
2010: Christophe Berdos
2011: Patrick Pechambert
2012: Romain Poite
2013: Jérôme Garcès
2014: Christophe Berdos
2015: Pascal Gaüzère
2016: Mathieu Raynal
2017: Romain Poite
2018: Jérôme Garcès advert