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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020
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Rumbling on: Leinster still fuming at O'Connell's non-citing

“I think we’re talking semantics when people try to differentiate between different parts of the foot.”

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE SUN AND wind beating Leinster’s UCD training ground today did little to chill them out.

The decision to make no further inquiries into the incident which led to winger Dave Kearney being stretchered off during Leinster’s inter-provincial win over Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday has left a sour taste in the mouth.

And that taste will not have been sweetened by Rob Penney’s pre-empting of yesterday’s decision from the citing commissioner by saying Paul O’Connell had “absolutely nothing to answer for.”

“Yeah, I was pretty surprised,” said Leinster captain Leo Cullen with a grin that suggested he was greatly understating his point.

“I think any time there’s a player who has been knocked unconscious by another player’s boot I think it needs to be looked at.”

The reports of Eddie Walsh’s decision suggested O’Connell would not face further disciplinary action because his attempt to kick the ball – an attempt obstructed by Kearney’s head – was ‘careless’ but not ‘reckless’.

“I’m sure it was accidental,” Cullen added, “but it was most certainly reckless.”

In an equipment shack, a boiling kettle began to whistle. At least, we think it was a kettle rather than steam puffing from Joe Schmidt’s ears.

“The forgotten man in this is Dave Kearney,” said the Leinster coach.

Semantics

“Dave spent the night in hospital. He left the field in a very groggy state after being effectively made unconscious by the foot, the toe, the shin… I think we’re talking semantics when people try to differentiate between different parts of the foot.

“We’re surprised that it wasn’t at least brought to the attention of the judiciary.”

In a week, and on a day, where he was underlining an interest in the vacant position as Ireland’s head coach, Schmidt was quick to clarify that his issue is not with O’Connell, but rather with the process which has led to this juncture.

“I’ve no problem speaking volumes about Paul O’Connell as a person, as a player. I think he’s a superb man and a superb player. But I think what we’ve created is a dangerous baseline; when someone can be kicked unconscious on the ground and it not even be brought to the judiciary.

YouTube Credit: RaboDirectPRO12

“I just think with 90,000 hits on YouTube, kids are watching that, parents are watching that.

“We’re trying to grow the game globally. And we’ve effectively said – by not citing a person and asking questions – that that’s an acceptable act on a rugby field.

“It’s not a question of intent or the individual. It’s more a question of the process. And for (citing commissioner) Eddie Walsh to determine that that is an acceptable act on a rugby field, is a surprise to us.

“And I think it’s a surprise to a lot of people. I think it’s a surprise in France where social media have gone mad and I think mainstream media will be following up pretty soon.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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