The International Rugby Board has paid tribute to referee Alain Rolland following the announcement that he has decided to retire at the end of the current season.
Rolland, 47, has so far refereed 64 full internationals, including the 2007 Rugby World Cup 2007 final between South Africa and England in Paris and IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset hopes he will serve as inpiration for the next generation of referees.
"Rugby simply cannot take place without referees and Alain has proven himself time and again to be one of the most accurate, consistent and reliable match officials this great Game has seen," said Lapasset.
"The fact that Alain went into refereeing after a successful playing career is particularly pleasing and he should be an inspiration to others who want to stay involved once their playing days are over. I would like to wish him well for the remainder of this season and beyond."
IRB High Performance Match Official Manager Joel Jutge added: "Alain is quite simply a world-class referee who has maintained a consistently high level of performance and fitness throughout his career. He works extremely hard at all aspects of his game, he is the consummate professional and, in addition, he always has time to offer advice and support to younger referees coming through the ranks.
"I would like to thank him for his service to Rugby, acknowledge his contribution at the highest level and wish him all the best for the future. He is a role model for all aspiring referees."