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Dublin: 6°C Sunday 17 January 2021

'If Tadhg hadn't stayed down, the referee might not have reversed the penalty'

Conor Murray believes Pascal Gauzere was correct to reverse a pivotal penalty in Munster’s favour at Murrayfield on Saturday.

CONOR MURRAY IS firm in his mind that Pascal Gauzere was correct to reverse a pivotal penalty in Munster’s favour during last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup defeat of Edinburgh, even if Tadhg Beirne appeared to go down ‘quite easily’.

The Munster second row has been the subject of criticism for the way in which he reacted to off-the-ball contact from Edinburgh’s Pierre Schoeman, with many quarters believing Beirne exaggerated the incident. 

Tadhg Beirne receives treatment Beirne receives treatment at Murrayfield on Saturday. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

After initially penalising Rhys Marshall, French referee Gauzere was convinced to seek video recourse from his Television Match Official and after deciding it was a penalty against loosehead prop Schoeman, the officials reversed their decision.

From there, Tyler Bleyendaal put Munster into position for their match-winning try through Keith Earls, with Johann van Graan’s side ultimately securing a 17-13 victory and a place in the European semi-finals.

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Murray was adamant that it was a penalty against Schoeman by ‘the letter of the law’, even though Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill and Brian O’Driscoll have been vocal in their condemnation of Beirne. 

“The first time I saw it, in slow motion, it didn’t look too bad and it looks like he [Beirne] went down quite easily. He did,” the Ireland scrum-half said. 

“But when I watched it back in real time and watched it fully, it was a penalty. It was black and white. Schoeman eyes him up and someone told me it was an elbow flick a while ago, but it wasn’t, it was a full arm or shoulder and Schoeman is a big loosehead prop.

“My answer is you’d have to ask Tadhg how badly he was hurt, I didn’t really care, because we got the penalty reversed and we went down and eventually scored a try.

“There’s a lot being made about how big a deal Tadhg made about it, but it was a penalty. By the letter of the law, it was a penalty. Maybe you could say the ref wouldn’t have gone back if Tadhg hadn’t stayed down and drew attention to it.”

Murray admits it was a fortunate break for Munster, as they would have trailed by six points had Jaco van der Walt slotted over the long-distance penalty for Edinburgh. 

“Thankfully the ref did see it and he did reverse it,” he continued. ”I’d stand strongly by it, it is a penalty. He eyes him up and checks his run on purpose. Lucky for us as Van der Walt would have slotted that [penalty] from 40 metres, he doesn’t miss too many kicks.

“Six points down, we would have stayed on task and tried to win the game obviously, but it would have made it that bit harder. We got a little bit of a break there.”

Conor Murray Murray was in Dublin today as a Pinergy ambassador. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Murray was also asked about the incident involving him and Henry Pyrgos in the build-up to Earls’ first try of Saturday’s dramatic quarter-final tie, when the scrum-half ‘saw red’ and tangled with his opposite number.

The 29-year-old was fortunate not to have the penalty reversed against him, as Earls took a quick penalty to breach the Scottish side’s defence. 

“If we’re being honest, yeah I was worried the try would be disallowed,” he admitted.

“I think it was just a little bit of frustration on my part. I was trying to play the ball off the scrum and he just slapped it down cynically, no other intention really than to infringe. I just saw red for a little second and I actually hurt myself more than I hurt him. I hit my head off the ground a little bit. Maybe got a little bit lucky there. 

“If that was reversed, people talk about it now, but I’m sure we would have found another way to score a try there. Obviously, it would have been frustrating from my point of view to let the team down and, yeah, maybe I got a little bit lucky there, but I’ll try not to do that again.”

Conor Murray was speaking at the announcement that Pinergy will be powering Munster Rugby with 100% renewable energy.

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