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Record breaking Barnes to notch up new milestone

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

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The Gallagher Premiership’s record holder for most appearances by a referee – Wayne Barnes – is set to bring up a major milestone this weekend.

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Barnes will officiate his 250th Gallagher Premiership Rugby game on Friday night when he takes charge of Bristol Bears against Sale Sharks at Ashton Gate.

Barnes was supposed to reach the milestone last weekend, which was foiled when the match between Bath Rugby and London Irish on Monday was called off due to positive Covid-19.

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But the 42-year-old hasn’t had to wait long to bring up the milestone, as he will be in charge of the first game of Round 13 between two of last season’s semi-finalists.

It was in 2018 that the league’s most experienced ref notched up 200 appearances and he holds a huge lead over the second placed Chris White, who retired over a decade ago with 190 appearances.

Barnes will be assisted on the sidelines by Anthony Woodthorpe and Jamie Leahy, while Tom Foley will be the match official as the 12th-placed Bears host the ninth-placed Sharks at BS3.

On Saturday, Ian Tempest will oversee his 99th Gallagher Premiership Rugby game as Exeter Chiefs face Harlequins. Tempest will be joined by helpers in the highly anticipated rematch of last season’s final.

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Meanwhile Matthew Carley is in the middle for the Falcons against the Saints, with Hamish Smales and Wayne Falla as his assistants, as both teams aim to rebound from Round 12 setbacks.

And Karl Dickson will be in charge of Gloucester Rugby’s visit to Saracens, as second meets fourth, with Jack Makepeace and Joe James assisting and Claire Hodnett on the touchline.

The action concludes on Sunday with a thrilling double header between Bath Rugby and Worcester Warriors, and Wasps hosting leaders Leicester Tigers.

Craig Maxwell-Keys will oversee Bath Rugby’s first game of 2022 following the cancellation of their game with London Irish, with Alex Thomas and John Meredith running the lines. Andrew Jackson will be the TMO as 11th-placed Warriors also contest their first game of the new year, having had a rest week in Round 12, with Bath two places behind them in 13th.

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Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers will travel to Wasps as Steve Borthwick’s men look to continue their perfect start to the league campaign, having won all 11 of their fixtures so far. Tom Foley will referee the contest at Coventry Building Society Arena, where Wasps will become the latest team to try and end the league leaders’ formidable start to the season.

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