Irish referee, Andy Brace, is set to pay tribute to his late father during the Six Nations tournament this month when he takes to the field with an engraved ACME whistle sporting his dad’s motto ‘Sempur Sursum’.
The saying has held a special meaning for Andy growing up. Andy explained:
“It’s something that is certainly close to my heart because it was dad’s motto when he was a teacher.
“Roughly translated it means “ever onwards, always aiming high”.
The saying was then etched into Bracey’s arrival onto the international rugby scene in 2017.
“The reason why this quote is so personal to me is that my dad sent me a message off the back of the World Cup in Japan.
“It was a bit of a bittersweet moment; you’re there as an assistant ref, a great experience for sure but we all want to be there in the middle.
“Then two months after Japan I got picked for the Six Nations. We knew that it was a big opportunity for me as a referee. My dad sent me that same message when I got that appointment, I still have that text message now.
“It was my first Six Nations game, and my father had organised for the family to come over to watch France v Italy, and then tragically passed away.
“The elation of getting the game initially, and then obviously the devastation of losing my best friend going into the biggest game of your career – it was tough.”
Ever since then, Andy has taken his dad’s motto, living and breathing it throughout his career, growing a reputation as one of the world’s top officials.
Yet, throughout his career, his dad has never been far from his mind. Andy added:
“I remember my brother got me a card that was a photo of my father and I from Japan at the Rugby World Cup and underneath was his motto.
“I take that card out with me in my pocket every match.”
Now, thanks to the team at ACME Whistles, Andy will be closer than ever to his father with a personalised ACME Thunderer whistle, created by the team in Birmingham especially for the 2022 Six Nations.
Andy Said: “It’s good to look back and remember my dad, especially for the Six Nations. I’m reffing the Wales v Italy game on the last weekend and I’ll certainly be bringing this special new whistle to the game as a reminder of his support and guidance.”
Ben McFarlane from ACME Whistles said: “We all have role models or people who inspire us in our career, and we wanted to recognise one of those who played a part for Andy as he reached the highest levels of refereeing.
“We hope that this will always help as a reminder of his dad, as well as Andy’s drive to always be the best he can be.”
To find out more about ACME Whistle’s support for rugby at all levels, visit www.acmewhistles.com