Who is the referee for La Rochelle vs Saracens in Champions Cup? Meet the man with the whistle

ITV will be providing live coverage of Saracens vs La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre

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It will be a clash of former European champions when Saracens travel to La Rochelle on Sunday.

The north London side will travel to the French side’s Stade Marcel-Deflandre home in the final quarter-final of the weekend. Stade Rochelle are the defending champions, having triumphed over Leinster in Marseille last May.

Saracens are three time winners of the competition including back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, as well as in 2019. Captained by Owen Farrell, Sarries made tough work of overcoming Osprey in the previous round of the knockout stages.

La Rochelle had a scare with being pushed all the way by Premiership strugglers Gloucester last weekend. But will be looking to advance to face Exeter in the semi-finals.

Three quarter-final matches have been played so far this weekend with Leinster, Toulouse and Exeter running out comfotable winners in the games so far. But what to expect from the final match of the weekend?

Is the game on ITV?

If you are in the UK the game will be televised by both ITV and BT Sport. The coverage on terestrial TV will begin at 2.30pm.

BT will also begin broadcasting from the Stade Marcel-Deflandre at 2.30pm. The match itself will kick-off at 3pm.

ITV’s coverage will feature Topsy Ojo and David Flatman as well as host Hugh Woozencroft.

Who is the referee for La Rochelle vs Saracens?

Ireland’s Andrew Brace will be the refree at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday (9 April). He took charge of the Exeter vs Montpellier game in the previous knock-out round game.

Brace and his TMO Joy Neville showed the French side’s star player Zach Mercer, but the decision was later overturned in a disciplinary pannel. It was a pivotal moment in the game, which finished 33-33 with Exeter advancing on tries scored.

Joining Brace on the touchline will be Frank Murphy and Chris Busby, making it an all Irish officiating team.

Who is the TMO?

Andrew Brace will be joined by Joy Neville as TMO for the second week in a row. Neville has been a regular TMO in the men’s game, including in the Six Nations - becoming the first female TMO in the competition’s history.

Referee Andrew Brace. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty ImagesReferee Andrew Brace. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Referee Andrew Brace. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

What has been said pre-game?

Maro Itoje has called on Premiership Rugby to halt the player exodus to France as he refused to rule out moving overseas when his Saracens contract expires next year. Itoje’s clear preference is to remain in north London but he is concerned by the number of England internationals signing for Top 14 clubs in deals that begin when the World Cup is over.

Sam Simmonds, David Ribbans, Joe Marchant and Luke Cowan-Dickie are some of the players in the prime of their careers to have accepted the better financial rewards available across The Channel. While Premiership clubs operate under a £5million salary cap, in France the limit is much higher at £9.4million.

England’s restriction on picking players outside the Premiership is now coming under growing pressure, but neither the Rugby Football Union nor Premiership Rugby are willing to relax this rule as negotiations over the new Professional Game Agreement continue. Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall recently called for joint contracts to be considered, allowing clubs to share the cost of their England players with the RFU and Itoje insists a solution must be found.

“First and foremost I love playing for Saracens. I love Saracens. In an ideal world I would love to spend the majority, if not the rest, of my career at Saracens,” Itoje said. “Saracens is a club that I love being a part of. I want to stay here, I want to stay in England, I want to keep playing my rugby in England.

“I think it’s good for the game to have English players in England. I think it’s good for the game to have a situation where the Premiership is thriving, English players are in England, the clubs have their English players…I think that’s a situation where all parties win. But unfortunately, at the moment, we have a situation where for numerous reasons, there are a number of regulations and requirements that are making it more and more difficult for English players to stay in England.

“I think we’re seeing an unfortunate trend at the moment. There are numerous quality English players in their prime who are going abroad, which has never really happened before in my playing career. Normally it’s players at the end of their careers going abroad for a year or two. Most English players want to stay in England and play their rugby in England.

“We need to make it more attractive for the clubs to have English players. PRL needs to make it more attractive for the clubs to have English players. We need to find solutions to that problem. But all things being equal, I would love to be at Saracens.”

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