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Barnes' new assistant ref is ex-player he red-carded for stamping

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Veteran referee Wayne Barnes has tweeted about this Sunday’s very different reunion with Nick Wood nine years after he sent the ex-Gloucester prop off just 73 seconds into a Premiership match versus Saracens. The referee was in charge of a September 2013 top-flight game at Allianz Park when he brandished the red card to the visiting front-rower for stamping on the head of the London club’s Jacques Burger. 

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It was the second-fastest red card in the history of the Premiership at the time, coming in at just 29 seconds after the 42-second dismissal of Mick Watson for London Scottish against Bath in 1999.

Wood was banned for eight weeks after referee Barnes had sent him off but the irony about this Sunday’s Premiership game at Franklin’s Gardens between Northampton and Wasps is that the one-time naughty boy Wood will be one of the assistant referees helping out Barnes. 

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The popular Barnes tweeted: “Assistant Referees: Nick Wood & Jamie Leahy. TMO: Claire Hodnett. The last time Nick Wood and I were on the pitch together was back at Saracens in 2013. I’m hoping he lasts more than 73 seconds this time!”

Accompanying these words, the ever-popular Barnes attached two pictures of the 2013 incident, one of the red card being shown and then a close up of the post-card chat between Wood and the referee. 

Wood’s lengthy career with Gloucester ended in 2015/16 and the now Radley College rugby master has since taken up refereeing, working his way through the ranks to the level where – in a classic poacher turned gamekeeper transformation – he will now call Barnes his colleague this weekend.

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It was in his final season at Gloucester six years ago that Wood had a curious red card sequel at Saracens, Schalk Britz getting sent off and banned for three weeks for punching the visiting prop in another tempestuous Sarries-Gloucs encounter.  

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