The La Rochelle centre saw red for a high shot on Maxime Medard

It was a horrible record to break, as the Levani Botia red card in the first half was the first ever in a Heineken Cup final.

In the all-French affair at Twickenham, the Fijian centre came in to hammer Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard, but went high and caught him around the head and neck. In real time the La Rochelle star was shown an instant yellow card but upon review the match officials – led by referee Luke Pearce – upgraded the card to a red.

Despite seeing their man sent off, La Rochelle went in at half-time leading the Champions Cup final 12-9.

Talking before the game, 33-year-old Pearce – the youngest ever ref in a European Cup final, said: “It’s huge. I’ve been involved in different roles over the years, working with colleagues who have done many finals, and you only have to look at the list of the people and the referees who have done Heineken Cup finals – there’s not many people who have done them. 

“So, to join that list is pretty special and, as referees, we all want to do the biggest and best games out there if possible. So, when you are put into a match and selected for the final, it feels very, very good. 

“The European Cup is a very special competition. It’s the highest level of rugby that we can obtain in Europe and we all know that every time we take to the pitch for a Champions Cup game, we have to perform and there are no excuses for not doing so.”

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