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Referee Andrew Brace subjected to appalling online abuse in wake of Autumn Nations Cup final

By Josh Raisey
Andrew Brace (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Referee Andrew Brace has been subject to an appalling tirade of abuse online following his officiating of the Autumn Nations Cup final.


Fans have taken to directly tagging the 32-year-old in their posts on Twitter, and worse still, some have opted to comment on the obituary of his late father.

This is a stark reminder of the dark side of social media, as no person should face abuse of this nature. Moreover, it continues to tarnish the reputation of rugby, which seems to cling to the illusion that it has a higher set of standards than other sports.

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England snuck to a sudden death 22-19 win over an inexperienced France at Twickenham, but looked as though they were heading for a humiliating loss in the final minutes of regular time when trailing 19-12.
Eddie Jones’ side managed to score a last gasp try, but there were at least two occasions in the final two minutes where England seemed to have knocked the ball on, but went unnoticed. In fact, Owen Farrell’s fumble at the base of a ruck actually led to a penalty to England, which allowed them to kick to the corner and Luke Cowan-Dickie to score from the ensuing lineout.

Conversely, France’s Sekou Macalou was wrongly adjudged to have knocked the ball on following France’s kick-off for the second half of extra time. England won a penalty from the scrum and were able to relieve the pressure and work their way upfield and eventually earn the match-winning penalty themselves. Had the scrum not been awarded in the first place, England were toiling in their own 22.

While Brace received the brunt of this criticism online, it has been highlighted that the television match official and the touch judges were silent in instances where their voices needed to be heard.

Brace was on the wrong side of the ruck when Farrell knocked the ball on, as he was only moments before when Billy Vunipola appeared to knock the ball on as well. It is understandable that he may have missed them given the melee of bodies in his way, but it is most surprising that his officiating team did not assist him.


Regardless of how aggrieved someone feels after a loss, very few would argue that this is acceptable behaviour, and indeed there are many that have deleted their comments. Social media is a platform which allows people to voice their opinions, but tagging their target in a post or hijacking a personal post of theirs are new depths.

Hundreds of messages, many too unpleasant to publish, were directed at the young referee.



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