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Wayne Barnes has declared his retirement following his role as referee in the Rugby World Cup final.

After officiating 111 Tests, Wayne Barnes has declared his retirement, with his final match being the World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand.

Barnes, who is 44 years old, has decided to end his career as a referee after almost thirty years. He began officiating when he was a teenager and now feels that it is the right time to retire and spend more time with his family. He expressed his pride in having been a referee for five Rugby World Cups and 26 Six Nations matches. Despite facing attacks on social media in recent years, including last weekend, Barnes has promised to continue supporting officials who experience online abuse and threats even after his retirement.

He announced on social media that he has been a part of many memorable rugby games over the past two decades. He has had the opportunity to witness exceptional players and collaborate with top coaches in the sport. This past Saturday, he had the honor of officiating the Rugby World Cup final between two renowned teams, the All Blacks and the Springboks. It is often said that one knows when it is time to retire, and for him and his family, this is the right time.

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“My kids have been deprived of spending time with their father for an extended period and I am excited for the future where we can have family weekends, attend sports events, school functions and celebrate birthdays together. My spouse, Polly, has made significant sacrifices to support me in reaching my personal aspirations. While I have been away for most weekends and for a considerable amount of time throughout the year, she has successfully balanced being an exceptional mother to our two active children and maintaining a highly successful career of her own.”

“I will continue to be an advocate for referees and collaborate closely with the International Rugby Match Officials’ association to ensure that match officials worldwide have not only a unified voice but also the necessary support system for themselves and their families. This is especially important as online abuse and threats have become all too common for those involved in the sport. I am immensely proud of my career, which has included officiating five Rugby World Cups, 26 Six Nations matches, three European Champions Cup finals, and 10 Premiership finals. I am grateful to all those who have supported me along the way, especially Chris White, Tony Spreadbury, Brian Campsall, Nigel Yates, and Phil Keith-Roach. It has been an incredible journey.”

On Saturday in Cardiff, Jac Morgan will lead a team with 12 members from the World Cup squad as Wales takes on the Barbarians. The head coach, Warren Gatland, has chosen four players who were in the starting lineup during Wales’ quarter-final loss to Argentina – Morgan, center George North, lock Adam Beard, and No 8 Aaron Wainwright.

31-year-old Lloyd Fairbrother, a prop for the Dragons, will play his first non-cap match for Wales alongside wing Tom Rogers and lock Ben Carter, who are also getting their first opportunities. Fairbrother will start in the tighthead position due to absence of Tomos Francis and Henry Thomas, who are playing in France, as well as Dillon Lewis from Harlequins and the injured Keiron Assiratti and Leon Brown. Assiratti is out with an ankle injury while Brown has a calf problem, resulting in callups for Fairbrother and Scarlets prop Harri O’Connor, who will be on the bench.

The match at Principality Stadium is being held in honor of Alun Wyn Jones, the player with the most caps for Wales. He officially retired from international rugby in May, after playing 158 matches for his country. Also retiring from international play is full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who will make his final appearance for Wales this weekend. Halfpenny has earned 101 caps and has scored a total of 801 points.

Gatland stated that facing a team of skilled players from the Barbarians is an exciting test for our team and an opportunity for individuals to showcase their abilities. This match will be the final appearance for Leigh Halfpenny in a Welsh jersey, and a chance for supporters to witness and honor Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric in their last international game. We are eagerly anticipating playing in front of our home crowd this Saturday.

Source: theguardian.com