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Busby To Referee First Champions Cup Quarter-Final

Busby To Referee First Champions Cup Quarter-Final

Antrim man Chris Busby refereed four Investec Champions Cup matches during this season's pool stages INPHO/Billy Stickland

Chris Busby will lead an an all-Irish team of match officials when he referees the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final between Toulouse and Exeter Chiefs at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday.

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The referees for this weekend’s quarter-final fixtures in both the Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup have been appointed by a committee chaired by the tournament organisers’ Head of Match Officials, Tony Spreadbury.

The Belfast-based Busby, who joined the IRFU’s Panel of High Performance Referees in 2021, will have the whistle for the last of the Champions Cup quarter-finals, with Eoghan Cross and Andrew Brace his assistant referees, and Mark Patton on television match official duty.

A product of the Ulster Society of Rugby Football Referees, the 2023/24 season has been a busy one for Busby who made his Men’s Rugby World Cup debut as an assistant referee, and was recently involved in his third successive Guinness Men’s Six Nations as an AR.

The Ballyclare clubman has refereed in the Challenge Cup’s knockout stages previously, including last week’s Edinburgh-Bayonne round of 16 tie, and has been a regular feature in this season’s Champions Cup with appointments at Toulon, Harlequins, Bordeaux-Bègles, and Sale Sharks.

This will be his first time to take charge of a Champions Cup quarter-final, following in the footsteps of fellow current IRFU High Performance referee Brace, and it comes on the back of three all-Irish teams of match officials being appointed to EPCR games last weekend.

Frank Murphy, another member of the HP referees’ panel, refereed the Bordeaux-Saracens clash in the Champions Cup’s round of 16, supported by Cross, Andrew Cole, and TMO Brian MacNeice.

Brace and Busby took charge of Challenge Cup last-16 matches in Gloucester and Edinburgh respectively, with Keane Davison, Padraic Reidy, Peter Martin, and Paul Haycock providing support as ARs, and Olly Hodges and Patton the appointed TMOs.

Meanwhile, England’s Karl Dickson has been selected as the referee for Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against defending champions La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Ulster’s Challenge Cup quarter-final away to Clermont Auvergne will be overseen by RFU referee Christophe Ridley, while the meeting of URC rivals Connacht and Benetton Rugby in Treviso will be refereed by Scotland’s Mike Adamson.


Bordeaux-Bègles v Harlequins, Stade Chaban-Delmas, 4pm local time, Saturday
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy); Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovelli, Gianluca Gnecchi (both Italy); TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

LEINSTER v La Rochelle, Aviva Stadium, 5.30pm, Saturday
Referee: Karl Dickson (England); Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Andrew Jackson (both England); TMO: Tom Foley (England)

Northampton Saints v Vodacom Bulls, cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, 8pm, Saturday
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France); Assistant Referees: Ludovic Cayre, Luc Ramos (both France); TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)

Toulouse v Exeter Chiefs, Stade Ernest Wallon, 4pm local time, Sunday
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland); Assistant Referees: Eoghan Cross, Andrew Brace (both Ireland); TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)


Gloucester v Ospreys, Kingsholm, 8pm, Friday
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France); Assistant Referees: Tual Trainini, Jérémy Rozier (both France); TMO: Denis Grenouillet (France)

Clermont Auvergne v ULSTER, Stade Marcel-Michelin, 1.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time, Saturday
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England); Assistant Referees: Joe James, Hamish Smales (both England); TMO: Dean Richards (England)

Hollywoodbets Sharks v Edinburgh, Hollywoodbets Kings Park, 1.30pm local time, Saturday
Referee: Matthew Carley (England); Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Adam Leal (both England); TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

Benetton v CONNACHT, Stadio di Monigo, 1.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time, Sunday
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland); Assistant Referees: Ruairidh Campbell, Sam Grove-White (both Scotland); TMO: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)