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Referee Andrew Brace replaced for Champions Cup match after online abuse

IRFU referee Andrew Brace has been removed as the match official for Toulouse and Exeter Chiefs Heineken Champions Cup match over concerns for his welfare.

The match, due to take place at the Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse will now be officiated by Scottish referee Mike Adamson, while Brace will take charge of Wasps vs Montpellier at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

The decision was made by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) following a tirade of online abuse directed at the Welsh referee following the Autumn Nations Cup encounter between France and England.

EPCR statement

“The Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Match Officials selection committee, chaired by Joël Jutge, EPCR’s Head of Match Officials, decided that due to the personal nature of some of the criticism levelled at Andrew Brace following last weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup match between England and France, it would be prudent on this occasion to make the appointment changes.

“EPCR and the selection committee regard Andrew Brace as a highly-talented match official, and with his welfare and development as a referee to the fore, this course of action was deemed to be appropriate in the circumstances,” a statement from EPCR read.

A number of disgruntled fans directed abuse at Brace for his officiating performance during the Autumn Nations Cup final, where a couple of late knock-ons were missed in the lead up to England’s try in the 80th minute.

That try in the last minute levelled the game, sending the match to extra-time. Owen Farrell slotted a penalty goal in the sudden death period, handing England the win.

France defence coach Shaun Edwards was disgruntled after the dramatic final, saying his team were disappointed by the officials performances.

“We’d like to have a bit of an explanation about the knock-on in the last tackle which led to a try.

“There was a knock-on in the lead-up. The referees can’t see everything and neither can the touch judges but we were a little bit disappointed,” Edwards told BT Sport.

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