Learn more about the Frenchman who has emerged as one of the nation's top referees
Referee Mathieu Raynal was born in 1981 in Perpignan, Southern France. Part of a successful Junior Perpignan team, they went on to win the French Junior Championships in 1998. However, that was the extent of Raynal’s playing career before choosing to take up the whistle.
Raynal’s referee promotion to Rugby Pro D2, France’s second division of professional rugby, at 25 for the 2006-07 season became quickly followed by his appointment to the Top 14 refereeing panel for the 2007-08 season. The Perpignan native’s rise has been slightly more gradual ever since in comparison.
The referee’s first Test match came during the 2008-10 European Nations Cup Second Division fixture between Malta and Netherlands, before Mathieu Raynal took charge of his first Tier 1 fixture between Scotland and Tonga in 2012 for the Autumn Internationals. This was following his appointment by the International Rugby Board to referee four games at the 2011 Junior World Championship.
A factor in Raynal’s gradual progression is in part down to an horrific injury he suffered in 2013. During a Top 14 match between Montpellier and Racing, Mathieu fractured both his tibia and fibula as he was caught between two players. It took him 11 months to recover before refereeing again, stunting his progress on the international scene.
The Frenchman’s first Six Nations appearance came in 2017, in the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham. Due to his injury in 2013, Raynal unfortunately missed out on refereeing at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. However, 2019 was a year of redemption for Raynal, taking charge of South Africa v Namibia at the World Cup.
He has also been selected to take the whistle at the 2023 tournament in France. His first game will be England’s pool match against Argentina.
Not one to shy away from a red card, Raynal famously sent off CJ Stander for the first time in his career after a high, and late, challenge on South African Patrick Lambie.