Who is England vs Ireland referee Mathieu Raynal? The Frenchman who is not afraid to show a red card

EXPERIENCED French referee Mathieu Raynal will be in charge of England's highly anticipated Six Nations contest against Ireland TODAY.

Raynal, 40, joined a local refereeing society in 2001 and was promoted to a full-time role by the age of 26.

However, Raynal is known for laying down the law early and he isn't afraid to make a big call when needed.

But why is he so quick to bring the cards out?

Who is Mathieu Raynal?

Born August 9, 1981, Mathieu was raised in Perpignan, France, a few miles north of the Spanish border.

He idolised rugby legends such as Jonah Lomu and David Campese which led Raynal to represent USA Perpignan at a young age.

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And in 1998, his side won the French Juniour Championships where Raynal was positioned in the back three.

Three years later, the Frenchman decided that he wanted to peruse a refereeing career, joining the local referees society in 2001 whilst playing at scrum-half for the University of Perpignan first XV.

Raynal slowly worked his way through the ranks by officiating amateur matches at first – alongside being promoted to the second division of professional rugby in France as a player.

But by 2004, Raynal switched his entire focus into becoming a full-time referee, took charge of his first pro game in 2006 and was named on the Top 14 refereeing panel the following season.

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Mathieu was also presented with the opportunity to referee in FOUR 2011 IRB Junior World Championship in Italy whilst he was still in his 20's.

However, the Frenchman was involved a horrific accident during Montpellier vs Racing Metro in 2013 when he got caught between two players, suffering a double leg break and a broken collarbone.

Thankfully, Raynal was able to return to action for the 2016 French Top 14 finals and his first Six Nations appearance happened to be a year later when England took on Scotland at Twickenham.

Why is Mathieu Raynal know for showing his cards?

The English and Irish players will need to be careful in their upcoming battle because Raynal's track record has proven that he is not afraid to bring the cards out if necessary.

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In June 2016, the Frenchman sent off Ireland's CJ Stander for jumping into South Africa's Patrick Lambie in a collision which resulted in the South African gaining unconsciousness.

March 2021, Bundee Aki received his marching orders for a shoulder challenge on England's Billy Vunipola.

And a couple of months later, USA flanker, Riekert Hattingh was red carded for a shoulder to the chin of Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher.

Mathieu's response to his decision making was: "The first five minutes are often crucial in setting the tone."

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