The opposing skippers were given a stern talking to for the lack of discipline in the first 14 minutes of their U20 Six Nations clash

U20 ref Aimee Barrett-Theron went viral on social media after the scolding she gave the England and Wales captains during their junior Six Nations meeting on Friday night.

In what is typically a fiery affair, players from both sides clashed repeatedly at The Rec but it was an incident in the first half that particularly wrangled referee Barrett-Theron, who delivered a one-liner that will go down in the pantheon of great rugby moments.

Read more: How to watch the Six Nations wherever you are

With less than 14 minutes on the clock and with the hosts leading 5-0, she was forced to call England captain Finn Carnduff and his opposite number in red Harri Ackerman over for a chat after a scuffle broke out on-field.

“You know boys,” she began, before uttering: “I’m not mad, I’m just really disappointed.

“You both gave me buy-in before the game in the changing rooms that you’d be able to control your players, so did you lie to me or is it something you can fix from now?”

The impact was written of the players’ faces, with both sheepishly looking at each other before confirming they would speak to their teams with a view to improving discipline for the remaining 70-odd minutes.

England went on to win the game 28-7 and top the table with 10 points ahead of Ireland but there was only one talking point in the aftermath.

Reaction to U20 ref Aimee Barrett-Theron’s telling off

Reactions poured in for Barrett-Theron’s handling of the situation and we’ve collated some of the best below.

Journalist Elise Hamersley expressed her disappointment that there had been some backlash to the incident, pointing to the example set by former referee Nigel Owens, who was famed for his directness.

“Strange discourse,” Hamersley wrote on X. “There are entire compilations on YouTube of ‘no nonsense’ refereeing.

“If this was Nigel Owens everyone would love it. Why is it now patronising?

“Can we let (female) refs have a bit of personality please?”

Elma Smit, presenter of women’s rugby podcast The Good, The Scaz And The Rugby also took to X to give her take.

“So much respect for how Aimee manages the pressure of the heat of battle & communicates with this much EQ,” she wrote.

Ben Coles, rugby reporter for The Telegraph, added: “I mean, even I felt like I’d let Aimee Barrett-Theron down.”

Rugby Scoop (@Rugby_Scoop) on X also lauded the South African, writing: “Well done Aimee Barrett-Theron. Great piece of management. Calm. Clear comms. Effective.”

While the response was largely positive, there were, as ever, some unhappy campers on social media, going to further show that you can’t please everyone!

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