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Video Nasty: Players reflect on the lineout larceny that cost Ireland in 2011

On Saturday, Declan Kidney’s men will revisit the scene of the Millennium Stadium crime for the first time.

Irish players protest to Jonathan Kaplan.
Irish players protest to Jonathan Kaplan.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

RONAN O’GARA HAD barely put his feet up on the Irish bench when one piece of Welsh illegality [and smart thinking] put paid to his good work.

Ireland were leading 13-9 after 50 minutes in March 2011, at the Millennium Stadium, when Matthew Rees and Mike Phillips combined to stun the visitors.

Jonathan Sexton, just on the pitch for O’Gara, pumped a crossfield kick out on the full. The ball went into the crowd and a Welsh ballboy set off to retrieve it.

As both sets of players trundled over to the touchline for the lineout, Rees was tossed a new ball by another ballboy.

Phillips noticed that nobody had noticed him and received a Rees pass at full-tilt before racing free up the left to dive over for a try.

YouTube credit: RuggieBear1

Following the game, Ireland coach Declan Kidney and captain Brian O’Driscoll struggled to contain their anger as they relived a moment that cost them a valuable victory on the road.

O’Driscoll said, “I didn’t see it myself but when you have half your team saying that someone touched it, you take their world for it.

“I tried to relay that to Jonathan Kaplan and the touch judge but he was having none of it.”

YouTube credit: pressassociation

A bit of a fuss

Rees told Wales Online on Tuesday that he had no regrets about the game-clinching try. He said:

I was given the ball, I chucked it to Phillsy and he did the rest. There were a few Irish players who kicked up a bit of a fuss, but the try was awarded and the rest is history.

“It was about time something went our way because normally things go against us.”

Speaking to TheScore.ie on Thursday, Ireland hooker Rory Best, who was on the field for the try, aid, “If we had’ve scored that try we would have taken the five points.

“It’s up to the officials to pick that up. The laws are there as a bit of a loose guide for the players to follow.”

Not fit for print

Donnacha Ryan was well placed to capture the incident on video but, like others at the Millennium Stadium, he was caught unawares.

The lock told TheScore.ie, “Whatever I said is not fit to print.

“I was doing the cameras that day. Andrew Trimble and myself were the 23rd man so I was doing a bit of the camera work on the scrums.

I actually didn’t see it at the time because I was fiddling with the camera. Obviously, when we saw replays up on the big screen, it was quite frustrating.

He added, “We had ample opportunity that day to do the business but if you’re going to start nitpicking at that, you’ll be in for a long day. Things will go against you but how you react will determine how you’re going to do.”

Conor Murray had yet to earn his first cap for Ireland when the incident took place, watched the match at home and can recall the post-match furore more than the incident itself.

He said, “We’ve got to be switched on this weekend and if anything happens with a second ball, we’ve got to be ready for it.”

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Patrick McCarry

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