Sunday 22 September 2019

Garces in shock final call despite semi-final criticism

Referee Jérôme Garcès. Photo: Sportsfile
Referee Jérôme Garcès. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Controversial French referee Jerome Garces has been selected ahead of Wayne Barnes and Nigel Owens to referee next month's Champions Cup final between Leinster and Saracens in Newcastle.

It will be his first major European final but, after being roundly criticised for his laissez-faire approach to the breakdown during Saracens' semi-final win against Munster, which baffled not only Irish fans but many neutral pundits too, the choice by EPCR will seem a curious one to many.

Ireland and Joe Schmidt have quibbled with his scrum adjudications before, while England were furious at his call to refer last November's potential winning try against the All Blacks to the TMO.

Earlier this year, there were also doubts about his apparent dismissal of an offside call and forward pass in the build-up to a Henry Slade try when England beat Ireland in February.

Meanwhile, Ireland international star Bundee Aki will avoid censure from rugby authorities here after admitting he mistakenly liked a tweet from Australian international Israel Folau in which the latter claimed hell awaited gay people.

Folau faces the sack while English star Billy Vunipola also liked the tweet and was subsequently issued with formal warnings by Saracens and the English Rugby Union.

However, Aki has highlighted his mistake, stating that he had liked the tweet before realising the full extent of the content.

"It does not reflect my views as a Christian," Aki said.

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"My belief is that he is a God of kindness, peace and loves people in all aspects.

"When I realised what the post was about I immediately unliked it straight away, as it does not reflect my views as a Christian."

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