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Referee Bloodbinned

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Referee Nika Amashukeli of Georgia travelled from Tblissi to Bedford in England to referee the Under-20 match between England and Italy - he was blood-binned".

In the middle of the first half, Amashukeli banged into Italian Andrea Chianucci as they were settling down for a line-out and took a blow to his eyebrow which opened up a cut, a frequent injury for boxers, the rarest of injuries for rugby referees.

In the midst of many smiles, medics came on to treat the referee but decided that the wound needed stitches to staunch the bleeding. Off Amashukeli went to the touch line.

His compatriot and assistant referee Shota Tevzadze was miked up and went onto the field to referee in Amashukeli's place.

After 15 minutes, Amashukeli, now stitched up and no longer bleeding, returned to duty and the field and Tevzadze went back to the touchline.

This may well be a unique occurrence. Referees have been replaced in many rugby matches, 14 times in Tier 1 tests, because of injury, most recently in Rome in November when referee Andrew Brace sustained a knee injury and was replaced by Pascal Gaüzère in the match between Italy and New Zealand.

But none of the 14 was blood-binned!

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