Ref Watch: Alain Rolland

Alain Rolland is the referee when the Springboks play Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Alain Rolland is the referee when the Springboks play Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

CAPE TOWN - If you Google Alain Rolland images one image stands out. This image depicts Rolland showing Sam Warburton a red card for a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc in the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final.

This incident is still being debated over in Wales because of the effect it had on the Walsh' chance of playing in their first World Cup final, but when it comes down to the facts Rolland applied the law and made the "text-book" call.

This does not change the fact that Rolland became very unpopular with Welsh supporters and even received death threats after the incident.

The Irish-born referee is one of the most successful refs in international rugby. He is the only Northern Hemisphere referee who has taken charge of a World Cup final since 1995. Rolland was the man with the whistle when the Boks won the tournament in 2007.

The 47-year old even played rugby on an international level as he played scrumhalf for Ireland on three occasions between 1991 and 1994.

On Saturday Rolland will be in charge of his 17th match involving the Boks and on previous occasions South Africa have won nine and lost six.

Both sides can expect to be penalised a number of times at the breakdown, but if you look past the Warburton incident, Rolland isn't a referee who hands out cards too often.

The IRB referee panel will lose another great referee soon after Jonathan Kaplan ended his career this year.

Rolland announced he will retire at the end of the season, but for now the Springboks have the benefit of playing in a match where the referee understands the game better than most and has enough experience to stay cool headed any circumstance. Even at the intimidating Millennium Stadium.