Video - Botia gets first red card ever in a European final
Levani Botia has been sent off in the Heineken Champions Cup final, the first red card ever brandished in a European final.
The La Rochelle centre hit Toulouse fullback Maxime Medard head high with a shoulder, an offence which Luke Pearace initially adjudged to be a yellow card. However, after Pearce saw the hit on the big screen, he queried it with TMO Tom Foley and subsequently upgraded it to a red.
Shoulder to head, Levani Botia's afternoon comes to an early conclusion…
The La Rochelle centre becomes the first player to be sent off in a @ChampionsCup final.
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) May 22, 2021
Pearce is taking charge of his first Heineken Champions Cup final, becoming the youngest referee to officiate at the showpiece match in the 26-year history of the tournament.
Pearce, who to date has refereed 30 Heineken Champions Cup matches, has compatriots, Wayne Barnes and Matthew Carley, as his assistants, while Foley appointmented as TMO in an all-English team of officials.
Toulouse’s four tournament wins in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2010 set a benchmark that Leinster reached with their victories in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018. Now the French club can move ahead again with an historic fifth win on Saturday, but one note of caution – the last time they played a final at Twickenham in 2004, Toulouse lost out 27-20 to Wasps.
Ronan O’Gara, Head Coach of La Rochelle, made the first of his four appearances in finals as a player with Munster in the first Twickenham showpiece in 2000. Northampton Saints won 9-8 on that occasion and the Munster No 10 missed two late penalties to win the match. O’Gara was a runner-up again in Cardiff in 2002, but then triumphed against Biarritz Olympique and Toulouse in the 2006 and 2008 finals in the Welsh capital.
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