Ref Watch: The home town boy to the rescue

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Cardiff Blues head to Treviso this weekend for a Guinness Pro14 clash against Benetton without a number of players available to John Mulvihill.

Between international call-ups and injuries there are 17 players unavailable for the trip to Italy, while Benetton have a full squad to call on and have done so, making just four changes to the side which should have beaten Northampton last week but for some dodgy refereeing.

Of course we will be hoping for some similarly favourable officiating this weekend, and with the referee coming from Cardiff and previously working for Cardiff Blues then fingers crossed it is forthcoming!

Andrew Brace grew up in Canton and is a former Cardiff Blues community officer, before heading over to Ireland where he took up the whistle and moved through the refereeing ranks.

He has been in charge of 47 Pro14 games, 14 Heineken Champions Cup and nine European Challenge Cup so far in his career, and recently was part of the refereeing team at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The 31-year-old has been in the middle for nine Cardiff Blues games, resulting in five wins and four defeats, with the most recent coming on Boxing Day in 2017 as the Dragons were beaten at Rodney Parade.

One of the other wins came in a 56-8 dispatching of Benetton at the Arms Park in March 2016, although he has refereed the Italians to wins in his last two visits to Treviso.

So far this domestic season he has refereed Scarlets to a home win over Benetton, Racing to a home win over Saracens and Sale to a home win over La Rochelle, showing three yellow cards and a red in the process.

Brace will be assisted by Paul Haycock from Ireland and Manuel Bottino of Italy, while Brian MacNiece of Ireland will act as the TMO.

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