Roman Poyet: "The refereeing allowed me to develop as an artist and as a man"

Roman Poyet: “The refereeing allowed me to develop as an artist and as a man”

Named six times as the best French referee of the past decade, Romain Bouet (46) has just left the judging. Little look back.

Let’s open the memory box. Who will come back now?
I still have many good memories, but the most important for me was the Leinster-Northampton European Cup final in 2011 which was an exceptional match. Then of course there’s the World Cup finals, the final stage touches, but it’s true that I’ve always loved the European Cup. I really wanted to end this season with a European Cup referee because it’s true that I have a lot of affection for this amazing and very beautiful competition.
What did you like about this competition? The fact that the difference is more liberal?
It is true that we feel this weight less compared to the championship. It goes faster, the teams are more liberating, and there’s a lot more gameplay, speed, and impact. And then, it’s a chance to judge the best players in Europe, even in the world since there are some from the southern hemisphere as well. The European Cup is a really cool thing to manage and what doesn’t spoil anything is that we go with a team of French referees for three days. Therefore, we have time to discover each other, to build links, to train our teams because the technical aspect is necessarily the most important. We really left with relatives and people we wanted to collaborate with.
Your last international match was marked by the gift you received from the hand of Michael Hopper…
Ah yes the didgeridoo (traditional aboriginal instrument, symbol of respect, editor’s note). I can say it now. Sitting at home. It’s an emotional sign that can’t be overused and is measured with all the respect we owe to this gesture. I obviously received great rewards but this has a special character.
And in the fourteenth place, what are your fondest memories?
These are multiple meetings with players, coaches, bosses and especially my colleagues that I’ve played with. Because some have become friends, others are buddies. Because we wouldn’t exist without them. I know where I come from, and I know I built myself with them. Everything we did together allowed me to reach and stay at this level. And for me, without any action, it is the most amazing memory that I will keep. The memories I had with my mates, good and bad. Then, in particular, there were a lot of good matches that I don’t necessarily want to give. But if all matches allow me to have their share of learning, to win two Top 14 finals, these will remain lasting memories.
We imagine there is still a bit of bitterness left for not celebrating the players in their last game.
Yes, there is clearly a lot of bitterness. Especially in the way it was done. Not telling me it was my last game (Toulouse and La Rochelle are in the qualifiers, editor’s note). I didn’t ask for anything but just wanted to share it with loved ones and couldn’t. So this is what bothers me a little bit. Then, whether or not you have gone any further in the final stages is not the question. The question is to remain human, to tell people things. In management, you can say disappointing things, but given all these years I’ve been in the FFR and in my service as well, but I think I’ve not only served myself, I think we could have been fit to warn me.
Throughout your career, you’ve been calling players by their first names a lot. To an audience that isn’t rugby, it’s hard to explain…
It is true that the proximity between the players and the referees is a great controversy, especially with us within the arbitration family. For some, I’ve seen them all happen. Then there are relationships that are established more or less strong even in adversity. I’ve always wanted to respect the players who called me by my first name as well. In spite of everything, at times it may seem difficult to feel because punishment is something more or less acceptable, this closeness, provided that everyone respects the circumstances of one or the other, perhaps also allows things to pass more easily and I am not the only one at the French level Who has this desire to create a bond with the player. We always take advantage of that because, be it the player or the referee, we exist for the same passion and to ensure that everyone finds themselves in the 80’s with the satisfaction that everyone has been able to develop in the best of conditions.
How did you experience media coverage? Because there weren’t only good sides. Previously, only coaches and journalists were critical of referees and now there are social networks.
It’s clearly more fun to take selfies or sign autographs than to call them names after leaving the stadiums. It was something that developed during my career. Not for my little ego. But it was recognition of the role of the referee, his character, and his qualities. Next, we know we’re not unanimous. Social networking is a ruthless thing. I’m not into that, so I’ve always saved myself from that. It is great for them to insult people when they have no skills, and see no knowledge. If they have that fun, I let them, but that doesn’t make people grow or make relationships. When I was young, we met people, we saw each other, we weren’t hiding behind screens and relationships were necessarily deeper.
Are there any matches you don’t want to remember?
That’s a good question (smiles). There are obviously a few of them because it always hurts not to perform the way you want to, but it’s also an important step in judgment because it’s a chance to ask yourself questions and work and see his mistakes. Video is a great way for us to challenge ourselves. I want to remember all my matches because they were teachings and learnings. This allowed me to develop as an artist but also as a man. There were tough matches to run in tough conditions. I’ll keep a lower quality memory but I don’t want to skip a single moment of this distinguished career.

And now in the Toulon crew

Romain Poite is now associated with Toulon for two years, as a specialist coach, responsible for the discipline and conduct of communication. An opportunity that crystallized in the final months of his refereeing career: “It’s something I hadn’t thought of before. It came naturally during the season. It’s true that Alexander Ruiz, who I was friends with, opened up a path and then, as the season progressed and the activities I was doing with Stade Français, I realized that it was an activity that should not be neglected. I thought a lot about the situation, the opportunity and said to myself that it was a challenge that might be interesting because in the consultations I had in the different clubs, we realized that we are complements, that we can offer something to the workers. I was ready To leave the world of rugby and get into the business world since I trained in it, but when you think about it, you tell yourself that the best thing to do is probably rugby. I do not regret the choice to pursue this experience and this passion. Especially since I will develop it since I was selected in Krebs in Aix-en-Provence to pass the Training Diploma. »
An exercise in which Alexandre Ruiz paved the way well, by joining the Montpellier staff at the start of the season: “I congratulated him. It was a simple revenge for him because he did not have the opportunity to take the final as a referee and he went to the Stade de France with his team and ended up with Bouclair. Alex really has “All the skills needed for that role. I don’t know if I have them yet. We’ll see what happens as the season progresses and if everyone gets something, why not go to the end.”

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