On Saturday, Alain Rolland, the Irish referee, will referee the Tri-Nations match between New Zealand and South Africa. It will be the 50th Test he has refereed, moving him into a rare group of refereeing achievers.
The first referee to 50 Tests was Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa, the second Chris White of England. Kaplan is now on 63 Tests as the number of Tests proliferates.
Rolland stopped playing in 1996 after playing three times for Ireland and 40 times for Leinster and started refereeing. In 2001 he refereed his first Test, Wales vs Romania and has refereed Six Nations, Super Rugby and Test matches since. This includes refereeing at the 2003 and 2007 rugby World Cups, most famously the Final in 2007, the fifth referee to referee a Final. And he is one of the 10 referees chosen for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Unlike many of the top referees in the world, it is not Rolland's full-time occupation for he is a mortgage broker in Dublin.
He was born in Dublin, the son of a French father and an Irish mother, which explains his names - Alain Colm Pierre Rolland. It also explains his fluency in rapid-fire French, to the pleasure of the French teams he referees.
Rolland is different from many of the top referees - becoming a referee after a good playing career. He will turn 45 on 22 August.
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