One of rugby’s most respected and decorated referees, Wayne Barnes has revealed his plans to retire following the conclusion of the World Cup next year.
Speaking to the Guardian, the 39-year-old explained how factors such as his family and the longevity of his career have helped to form his decision.
Barnes, who is also a barrister specialising in bribery and corruption, is hoping to be selected for his fourth World Cup in Japan.
This Saturday’s game between Exeter and Leicester will mark the start of his last full Premiership campaign.
Barnes took charge of last season’s Champions Cup final between Racing 92 and Leinster and recalled how Donnacha Ryan invited him in to share a beer after the game, before a knock on the door produced Tadhg Furlong with another stack of beer for the English man and his assistants to enjoy.
In the in-depth interview, Barnes also admitted that match referees need more help from the television match officials.
“I would expand it so we can check whatever we want without necessarily stopping the game. If, in a crucial moment, I can ask: ‘Is that a forward pass?’ and someone can tell me the answer in three seconds we don’t need to stop the game for 30-40 seconds. It’s like a scrum-half constantly talking to his No 10.”
Barnes was the youngest referee ever appointed to the Panel of National Referees after his inclusion at the age of 21 in 2001. He became a professional referee in April 2005.
Rugby players are often commended for their treatment of referees, showing them a level of respect that is often lacking in other sports.
Barnes was asked to give his opinion of the RFU’s crackdown on player’s appealing to referees. He famously sent off Dylan Hartley in the 2013 Premiership final which resulted in the hooker losing his spot on the Lions tour to Australia that year.
“It’s not a subject we discuss a lot. It wouldn’t be our general chit chat. I just don’t think it would happen again. Dylan’s a superb leader … I think it was just a moment of frustration.
“It was a massive shame it became the talking point. Pocock shouted at me at the weekend about something I’d got wrong but I had to remind him there are better ways of doing that. He said: ‘Of course, sorry, that wasn’t the right way.’”