Biographical sheet. Matthew Carley, born 21 December 1984, is an English international rugby union and rugby sevens referee, aged 38. He started refereeing at the age of 16. For many years, he refereed in the lower divisions of the English championship but also at the international level in rugby sevens. He refereed for the first time a Premiership match, the first rugby division in England, in May 2013. During the season 2015-16, he began to referee in the European Cup and then at international level. He has been refereeing at the Six Nations Tournament since the 2017 edition. This year he is participating in his first Rugby World Cup as head referee.
The referee of a sad record for the Blues
Matthew Carley notably refereed the meeting between the French XV and the Italian team during the 2023 Six Nations Tournament. A match won by the Blues with a score of 29 to 24 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. But this match was marked by a less positive record for the French: that of the greatest number of faults conceded under the Fabien Galthié era. The XV of France was penalized 18 times against the Squadra Azzurra that day. Shaun Edwards, defense coach of the French team, expressed his incomprehension after the match: “I’ve been in this sport for 20 years, and this is the highest number of penalties I’ve had against my team in defense. We will have to talk about it in detail with the referees. I have never had a defense punished so much!”
The Wales – Fiji controversy
More recently, Matthew Carley was at the heart of a controversy regarding the Wales – Fiji match, of which he was the main referee. In a match that was tense until the final moments (32-26), the refereeing decisions were widely commented on on social networks and in the press. In particular, a direct yellow card addressed to a Fijian player, after a series of Welsh faults on their goal line which were not punished by a card. “I don’t see how, with 20 minutes remaining, you can give several advantages under the posts without showing a yellow card,” Irish journalist Andy McGeady commented for example on X. If Wales were penalized twice as many as the Fijians (17 penalties to 9), it was above all the refereeing body’s management of the match as a whole which was criticized.