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Dublin: 6°C Monday 1 March 2021

'Kearney was really in no position to contest the ball': Leinster get the benefit of any doubt on replay

Faraway screens just might have helped Rob Kearney avoid a red in Glasgow.

THE END OF the rugby season is here, so The42 Rugby Weekly is celebrating with an early release of this week’s podcast while Leinster are still celebrating back-to-back Pro14 titles.

Although Leo Cullen’s men got over the line with a dominant display, the match was not without contentious incidents. And Rob Kearney – who has re-signed for another year with Ireland and Leinster – escaping with a yellow after his aerial collision with Stuart Hogg was chief among them.

Even before Hogg, playing his last game for the Warriors, was told he wouldn’t be playing on after suffering a suspected concussion, many onlookers already felt that the veteran Louthman had earned a red.

However, after a TMO review, referee Nigel Owens decided the clash merited just a sin-bin.

“My initial impression was: he’s landed on his side, I think it’s going to be a yellow card,” says Murray Kinsella as he was joined by Gavan Casey and Sean Farrell for The42 Rugby Weekly today.

“Then I saw the replay, got a closer view of Kearney’s actions and felt ‘this is going to be a red.’”


Oddly enough, the positioning of the screens in Celtic Park may have had a bearing on the decision.

“The big screens in the stadium are actually up really high. So it’s actually quite tough for referees and assistants to see real detail in it.

“That was one of the tricky parts of it, we didn’t get a great view. So apologies if my match report was not as strong as it should have been on that, but I thought it was a definite red.”

The screens may also have played a part in an earlier decision. In the first-half, after Fraser Brown barged through the back of Luke McGrath, the TMO called on Owens to check the incident and see if it warranted a yellow card rather than a penalty. Again, the referee trusted his initial real-time, but close-up view rather than the replay on the screen up in the rafters.

“I think Nigel Owens, reflecting on it, will feel it’s a red,” adds Kinsella, reading from Law 10.4 (I), which describes when an aerial challenge is worthy of a red card.

‘(When) it’s not a fair challenge with no contest, whilst being a reckless or deliberate foul play action and the player lands in a dangerous position’”.

“You look at Rob Kearney, he’s really in no position to contest the ball. It’s not really a fair challenge, he completely takes out (Hogg’s) lower body.

“He’s obviously tracking the ball with his eyes, but that’s not referenced in the Law. It’s not deliberate foul play, but Stuart Hogg lands in such a dangerous position.

“I thought the replay showed clearly enough that his head bangs on the ground.”

Even if Hogg’s head had not connected with the turf though, Casey feels that the offence should still incur the same sanction.

“If he lands on his shoulder, it’s not (because) Rob Kearney has exerted any control to make sure he lands on his shoulder. The challenge is made and it’s a lottery at that point.”

With all that said, though, Leinster coped well in the 10 minutes they were reduced to 14 men and there is certainly no guarantee that a red card would have allowed the Warriors to turn the tide.

Far worse teams than Leinster have been galvanised with a player issued red.

Listen to the full podcast below.

Gavan Casey is joined by Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell for a review of the 2018/19 season, and cast an eye forward to next year and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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