Andrew Brace, the Irish-based referee who came in for heavy criticism following his handling of the recent England versus France Nations Cup final, found himself at the centre of attention just seven minutes into another feisty Anglo-French clash on Friday night.
The official wasn’t initially supposed to be refereeing the Wasps versus Montpellier Champions Cup game at the Ricoh Arena as he was originally pencilled in to take charge of this Sunday’s now-cancelled Toulouse versus Exeter game in France.
Brace was taken off that appointment on December 10 following a deluge of vicious personal abuse online which included the leaving of abusive messages on his late father’s obituary which he had posted recently on Twitter.
Rather than a round two trip to France, he was instead given a round two game in England but it didn’t take long for him to be thrust into the spotlight again, red-carding Montpellier full-back Henry Immelman following a video review with the clock stopped on 6:19.
Immelman collided with Will Porter with a thunderous collision after the Wasps scrum-half gathered a garryowen and after Porter commendably got straight back up to his feet, the TMO review highlighted how it was a shoulder-to-head impact.
What a sad state of affairs. https://t.co/GwD5oA8olf
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 10, 2020
TMO Ian Tempest had encouraged Brace to review the footage on the Ricoh Arena screen and the inquest resulted in the referee brandishing the red card to the French club’s full-back. Here is how the conversation unfolded:
IT: Bracey, are you seeing that on the screen?
AB: Yeah, play that through.
IT: Mate, I think we need to look at it.
AB: So what I have got there, the tackle is always high. From that angle, the shoulder is direct to the head. I have got no mitigation because that player hasn’t dropped suddenly. I’m on a red card here unless you have got anything else to add.
IT: Let’s just make sure there is no significant drop by the Wasps player and then we can stick with that sanction. So I’ll just get the angle one more time just to make sure there is no significant drop.
AB: He didn’t drop suddenly there for me.
IT: I agree with you, Bracey.
AB: He’s always high… there is no option.
Brace then approached Immelman, explaining: “The problem I have is the tackle is always high. He [Porter] doesn’t drop suddenly so it is always high, direct to the head. There is no other option. Red card.”
The decision by Brace was backed at half-time by former England skipper Lawrence Dallaglio. Doing punditry on BT Sport, he said: “It’s a definite red. You can’t hit someone on the head.”
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 18, 2020
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