Mathieu Raynal, one of the game's most accomplished referees, has announced he is hanging up his whistle at the end of the season.

The 42-year-old from Perpignan's calm demeanour and astute decision-making has won him admiration from players, coaches, and fans alike.

Beyond his contributions on the pitch, Raynal's legacy extends to his role as a mentor and ambassador for rugby officiating. His commitment to nurturing the next generation of referees is set to leave an enduring impact on the sport.

In a statement announcing his retirement, Raynal wrote:

This sport has given me a lot and refereeing it at the highest level for all these years has been a privilege and a great honour.

After 18 years in the professional game and almost 350 games refereed, the end of the season will be time to bring to an end an activity which I have deeply loved and which has given me unforgettable experiences on pitches all around the world.

Even if I had the power to do so, I would not change anything in my journey to this point, including, above all, the most difficult moments. Those moments awoke me to the limitless power of courage, fortitude and resilience and they also allowed me to enjoy the good times with even greater relish and intensity.

I thank my family and my friends. For everything.

Thank you to the FFR, to my staff at World Rugby, to the players, coaches and my refereeing brothers in arms. The trust, friendship and support which I have received from them during the course of my career are immeasurable and will remain the greatest treasure of my journey.