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'I'll never blame a referee if we lose a game': Van Graan wants to move on from Glasgow incidents

The Munster head coach raised the issue with Pro14 referee’s chief Greg Garner.

Van Graan speaking at Munster's UL base on Monday.
Van Graan speaking at Munster's UL base on Monday.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan says he is keen to keep an open line of communication with the Guinness Pro14′s referee’s chief Greg Garner after an officiating dispute raised its head during his side’s loss to Glasgow last weekend.

During the first-half of Friday’s clash at Scotstoun, Munster scrum-half Neil Cronin left the action with a shoulder injury, while a later hit on replacement Sammy Arnold also went unpunished by officials.

It’s not the first refereeing gaffe this season after Connacht were denied a late five-metre scrum against Glasgow when Stuart Hogg carried the ball over his own line.

Van Graan says Joey Carbery was also subject to three late hits from Warriors players in the second half, all of which prompted the coach to raise his concerns during his weekly chat with Garner.

Scottish TMO Neil Paterson was unable to find the footage of one of the incidents in question, but van Graan refused to blame referee Ben Whitehouse.

“There were quite a few incidents in this game, we spoke to the referee’s manager as we do every single week, it’s important to keep that relationship going, he’s done very well in communicating back to us and they’ve been very consistent,” said van Graan.

“The only thing that all coaches want is clarity, clarity regarding certain incidents and the TMO incident on Sam, the TMO couldn’t find it and I can’t do anything about that now.

“The communication has been constant, it’s very important for player welfare that we look at the right things and we play within the spirit of the game, I thought it was very well handled by Craig over the weekend offering communication as it has for the last year.

“Joey was taken out late three times over the weekend by the opposition which shows the kind of attention teams will put on him just because of his threat.”

Johann van Graan Van Graan during Munster's squad session on Monday. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Munster welcome Ospreys to Cork on Friday [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport, TG4], where they will aim for a second win of the season, after their opening day 38-0 thumping of Cheetahs in Thomond Park.

Last weekend was a big setback, but van Graan said that referee Whitehouse did his job correctly, despite the off-the-ball incidents.

“It’s obviously not the ref’s mistake, he can only see what’s on the screen. It is frustrating but I can’t do anything about it now,” said van Graan.

“We’ll handle it afterwards through the right channels and I’m satisfied with the explanation that was given to me, we’ll move on from that.

“That being said, I’ll never blame a referee if we lose a game, like I said it’s not nice, we need to be better and they’ve got such a difficult job making decisions, only thing we want is clarity and consistency and a good game of rugby.”

Cronin is now set for ‘quite a few weeks’ out according to his coach, while Billy Holland will miss the round three clash with the Ospreys due to the rib injury he sustained.

With the lock absent, new signing Tadhg Beirne could make his first start, but whoever plays van Graan wants to see more from his side.

“You can have any game plan you want but if you don’t win your set-piece you are not going to get go-forward ball,” he said.

“In the second half once we sorted out our scrum and once we sorted out our lineout we got more momentum and then Joey got into the game. I thought Tadhg, Arno (Botha) and Jean Kleyn got into the game and he carried pretty well.

“I thought our defence was pretty good if you look at it the amount of pressure we were under but the laws of the game favours the attacking side so once you’ve got it you’ve got to hold on to it and I thought they did that better than we did.”

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Declan Rooney

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