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Andrew Brace withdrawn from refereeing duty in France over personal abuse

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Getty Images)

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.

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A minority of fans went to the extent of leaving abusive messages on his late father’s obituary which he had posted recently on Twitter.

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.

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Chris Ashton speaks to Big Jim Hamilton:

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Chris Ashton speaks to Big Jim Hamilton:

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.

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“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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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

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