'Best referee in modern era' Alain Rolland calls time on career
ALAIN ROLLAND will hang up his whistle at the end of the season after a stellar career as a referee.
The Blackrock man (47), who won three caps for Ireland between 1990 and 1995, has been a top-level international referee since 2001. His career has seen him officiate some of the sport's biggest games, including the 2007 World Cup final between South Africa and England and two Heineken Cup deciders.
Rolland (above) courted controversy when sending off Wales captain Sam Warburton in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, but his ability to speak French and his experience of having played at the top of the game stood to him throughout his days in the middle of 65 Test matches.
"Now I have decided that this will be my last season, I can turn my complete focus to continuing to enjoy my refereeing as much as ever and performing to the best of my ability," he said.
"I have had an incredible journey. I have thought long and hard about this, I have discussed it fully with my family and with (IRFU director of referees) Owen Doyle, and it just really feels that I am making the right call.
"There are several factors involved which all add up – Rugby World Cup is fully two years away, I am starting a new job, and I want to spend more time with Lizzie and our young family who have been very patient.
"I also want to thank sincerely the IRFU and particularly Owen, who has guided and coached me throughout my career. When we first sat down to chat about my taking up refereeing I don't think either of us had a clue as to where it would go."
Doyle paid tribute to Rolland: "In the modern era there is yet to be a better referee than Alain."