The referee that oversaw the finale of the Autumn Nations Cup between England and France has been removed from Heineken Champions Cup duty in France next weekend due to the personal abuse he was subjected to by Les Bleus fans in the aftermath of the match in Twickenham. England beat France in sudden-death extra time with a kick from Owen Farrell, but the performance of Brace was heavily criticised by some rugby fans online.
Video after the game appeared to show that Brace and his fellow officials had missed a knock-on by England’s Billy Vunipola in the lead up to a crucial try that was scored a few phases later. Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie touched down, forcing the game into sudden-death extra time.
Brace received hundreds of abusive messages on Twitter, as a result of what some fans perceived as decisions favouring the home side. Video footage also called in question some calls that in fact favoured the French in the lead-up to their first try, but this was conveniently missed by irate French supporters who seemed happy to scapegoat the Irishman.
As a result of the bitter aftermath of the game, the Independent are reporting that ECPR has taken the decision to remove Brace from reffing in France on the weekend of the 20th of December, a move which might have lead to further abuse.
Brace will now take charge of Wasps home game against Montpellier on the weekend of the 20th, instead of the Toulouse versus Exter Chiefs match the same day. It is being reported that the move was made so that Brace could avoid any further abuse by fans on the ground.
The ECPR said today: “Following a virtual meeting of a selection committee chaired by Joel Jutge, EPCR’s Head of Match Officials, it has been decided to make two referee appointment changes for Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup.
“Scotland’s Mike Adamson and Andrew Brace of Ireland will switch matches with Brace taking charge of Wasps v Montpellier in Pool A at the Ricoh Arena on Friday, 18 December while Adamson has been appointed to referee the Toulouse v Exeter Chiefs Pool B fixture at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday, 20 December.”
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