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Schmidt frustrated by Peyper's refereeing in Six Nations loss to France

The Ireland head coach feels his team should have had a first-half try.

Murray Kinsella reports from Stade de France

JOE SCHMIDT EXPRESSED frustration at referee Jaco Peyper’s refereeing performance after Ireland’s 10-9 Six Nations defeat to France in Paris.

Virimi Vakatawa celebrates at the final whistle Reigning champions Ireland lost in Paris. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Ireland head coach felt his side should have had a try in the first half, when Dave Kearney was called back after what Peyper viewed as a knock-on by Robbie Henshaw in midfield.

Television replays showed that the ball had bounced off Henshaw’s stomach, rather than his hands, after Johnny Sexton ran a dummy switch-switch play in the seventh minute, with the game still at 0-0.

Kearney scooped the ball off the ground and set off through the gap in the French defence, but Peyper blew his whistle to halt play.

“I felt we got close,” said a hugely disappointed Schmidt post-match in Paris. “There’s obviously the try scored by Dave Kearney that the referee blew up early and therefore couldn’t go to the TMO, but obviously it rebounded off the midriff of Robbie Henshaw.

“That would have given us a little bit of separation on the scoreboard that could have helped.

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“Then we’ve got to take responsibility that we’ve got to capitalise on the back of what was a pretty strong kicking game early in the game, which was playing to the conditions, the territory and possession we had in the 22.”

Ireland also felt Peyper could have yellow carded France’s Yoann Maestri and Guilhem Guirado in the first half, for a late hit on Johnny Sexton and a high tackle on Dave Kearney respectively.

“Those things aren’t really for me to say,” was Schmidt’s response when asked if Peyper’s refereeing performance was balanced. “Those things are for the referee to look back at and I’d certainly encourage the referee organiser to look back at them.

“We had some very clear indications coming into the Six Nations about what would be tolerated and what wouldn’t be, and the sanctions that would follow. Again, that’s entirely outside my gambit. What Rory and I have got to try and work out how we best cope if those things are happening, how we stay focused on our process.

“It was tough, we lost Dave Kearney in one of those incidents and he’s got an AC injury that will keep him out for some time. There is a fair degree of frustration, but some of that reflects our frustration at ourselves at the opportunities we didn’t take.”

Rory Best dejected after the game Best kept in communication with Peyper. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sitting alongside Schmidt at the post-match press conference was captain Rory Best, who was asked what the dialogue with Peyper had been like during the game.

“I think at one stage I asked the question, ‘How many attacking penalties are we going to get here without further sanction?’” said Best. “He said he was keeping a close eye on it.

“There’s a fine line between badgering the referee and keeping pressure on him. The one on Johnny he said the TMO was happy it was just a penalty. The one on Dave Kearney, you want to keep the pressure on, but ultimately they are making the decisions and you have to stay on the right side of him and not badger him too much.

“Definitely anytime we felt we got a lot of momentum the ball was being killed. We knew we wanted to keep it in hand and play phases and keep pressure on them that way. To have that cut short a time or two was definitely disappointing.”

Sean O’Brien suffers hamstring injury while Kearney ‘out for some time’

Schmidt’s strategy, no yellows and more talking points from Ireland’s defeat

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Murray Kinsella

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