Barnes set to take charge of a Saints clash with Tigers for final time

Wayne Barnes sent off Dylan Hartley in the 2013 Premiership final
Wayne Barnes sent off Dylan Hartley in the 2013 Premiership final

Wayne Barnes is ready to referee an east midlands derby for the final time after being named as the man in the middle for Friday's huge game at Welford Road.

Barnes is planning to hang up his whistle when this year's Rugby World Cup ends, meaning he will not be back in the Premiership next season.

Consequently, this week's game between Saints and Leicester Tigers is set to be his final east midlands match-up.

Barnes, who will be taking charge of his 212th Premiership game, has been involved in some hugely controversial encounters between the local rivals over the years.

In the 2011 Premiership play-off semi-final, Saints wing Chris Ashton and Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi were sin-binned by Barnes after the Samoan centre landed a series of punches on his opponent.

In another league meeting later that year, Saints flanker Tom Wood and Leicester’s Alesana Tuilagi were red-carded for fighting after Ashton pulled Tuilagi’s hair.

And there was to be a further talking point in that game, with Saints unhappy that Horacio Agulla’s late try was allowed after Geordan Murphy appeared to block Ben Foden in the build-up.

But the most discussed incident came in May 2013 when Barnes sent off Dylan Hartley in the Premiership final at Twickenham, with the Saints skipper subsequently banned for 11 weeks for verbally abusing the Gloucestershire official.

It didn't end there though as Barnes was back in charge of an east midlands derby in March 2014, when he was followed down the Franklin's Gardens tunnel by a furious Jim Mallinder, who felt the referee has called time on the game prematurely, consigning Saints to another defeat.