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'It was illegal' - Munster dismiss Harlequins 'rolling around and diving' claims

Ben Healy was left injured by two late hits at Thomond Park.

Danny Care suggested that Munster players were diving last weekend.
Danny Care suggested that Munster players were diving last weekend.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

Updated Dec 17th 2020, 8:26 AM

MUNSTER HAVE DISMISSED the notion that their players dived during last weekend’s Champions Cup win over Harlequins, a game in which two late hits left out-half Ben Healy injured.

Healy will be sidelined for up to four weeks as a result of the hits, the first of which saw Alex Dombrandt yellow-carded and the second of which resulted in Joe Marler being penalised.

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care has since suggested that Munster players were diving during the game at Thomond Park, while pointing out that Jean Kleyn was penalised for a late tackle on Quins fullback Mike Brown.

“There was a couple of 50-50 decisions went against us, a couple of Irish linesmen but we won’t say anything more than that,” said Care on the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“I’ve heard they’re all complaining about late hits. Ask Mike Brown about late hits and why he couldn’t come on the pitch because was KO’d. But nothing came of that and then we took a couple of yellow cards for it.

“You go after every 10, mate. Anything that we did to their 10 wasn’t not done to our players.

“We thought we were playing PSG a couple of times with all the rolling around and diving and the complaining.

“It’s a physical sport sometimes. Obviously, they got the better of it at the weekend, well done to them. We look forward to the rematch in January.”

However, his Munster counterpart, Conor Murray, played down Care’s comments and underlined that Healy had not been simulating injury.

“There’s so much talk in podcasts these days, do you know what I mean? It’s just lads chatting,” said Murray. “To be honest with you, I don’t think anything is meant by it.

a-scuffle-breaks-out-between-the-sides There was real niggle in last weekend's game. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“I’m sure if you ask Ben Healy if it was a dive, I don’t think so. There’s a scan on his shoulder that shows you a little bit different. I’m not digging back at anyone because I know what podcasts are like – they’re lads having a bit of craic.

“I don’t even know if I will hear it or whatever. No, I don’t think that’s a fair comment.”

Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham knows all about how out-halves can be easy targets in rugby.

The former Wallabies out-half understands that number 10s must be brave, but underlined that Harlequins had gone over the edge.

“Whether you run at the 10, whether you’re tackling him or trying to put pressure on him before he passes the ball, it’s definitely a part of most teams’ game plans,” said Larkham.

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“What I didn’t like about the weekend is the way they went about it. It was illegal, it’s illegal and I think the ref dealt with it, the citing commissioner looked at it and deemed it wasn’t more than a yellow card so I think it’s done. It’s done now.

“The sad news is that Ben misses a couple of weeks because of that.”

Murray has, of course, been targetted by opposition teams in a similar manner in the past, most notably when he highlighted the fact that Glasgow were looking to take out his planted leg while kicking in 2017.

Murray was “properly pissed off” at the time and the Lions also cried foul over similar tactics by the All Blacks against the scrum-half later the same year. 

Furthermore, with brain injury a major topic in rugby at present, Murray believes players need to be protected within the laws of the game.

conor-murray-tackled-by-josh-strauss Murray was aggrieved with Glasgow in 2017. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The hit on Ben was just late and reckless,” said Murray. “That’s not going after someone, that’s just going against the laws of the game and no one likes to see that.”

“Putting people under pressure is different I think. Putting you under pressure for time or shouting at you, all that kind of stuff to try and distract you is fine.

“I think other stuff, especially if it causes serious injury, you don’t want to be putting people out of the game for weeks.

“With everything that has come about the game and things like that, it’s definitely an area that needs to be looked at and cared for. You probably don’t realise when you’re younger but you do go out every week and you do put your body on the line.

“Sometimes you can get badly hurt and that’s just part of the territory, but as much as the officials and the referees and the people who are in charge can look after players then I think that’s got to be done.”

“I think people being put out for weeks or going out to try and injure people isn’t the way the game should be played.

“I know there’s a fine line as well but recklessness and seriously injuring people just isn’t any team talk or prep I’ve been involved with, so I don’t think it should be part of it.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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