Anscombe fumes after Ulster see red
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has blasted the lack of consistency in the rules around tackling players in the air after another contentious night at Ravenhill.
For the second time in a month, the northern province played for more than an hour with 14 men after Tom Court's red card for a dangerous tackle on Devin Toner.
While he accepted that decision, the New Zealander was left flummoxed by inexperienced English referee Luke Pearce's decision to show Rhys Ruddock a yellow card after the Leinster flanker and Zane Kirchner both took Paddy Jackson out in the air in an incident similar to the one that saw Jared Payne red-carded in last month's Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens.
Although that saw Leinster reduced to 13 men with Rob Kearney in the bin for a high tackle on Paddy Jackson, the visitors came back to win 22-20 and stay top of the table.
"Where I'm at a loss at is that you have got to look after people in the air," Anscombe said. "They've told us that, that's the rules. You're putting yourself in jeopardy of a card if you impede someone going for the ball in the air.
"But surely the penalty is what you do in the air. Are you competing, challenging or putting a guy at risk? Why does it vary on the penalty on how he falls?
"If he falls on his shoulder or neck it's a red card, if he falls on his hip it's a yellow. Well, that's not to do with the intent, it's inconsistent. You toss a coin.
"So if a guy puts his arm down to protect his fall then he's protecting the offender because he's protecting himself from falling. That's c**p."
Anscombe also criticised the decision to hand such an important, high-profile tie to a referee who had never officiated a Pro12 game before.
"Treat it as a big game and pick the best person available," Anscombe added. "That's how you promote your competition and showcase your game."
A losing bonus point was enough to see Ulster into the semi-finals and Anscombe said his injured stars like Ruan Pienaar, Rory Best, John Afoa and Stephen Ferris remain doubts for the run-in.
Leinster, meanwhile, could be without Luke Fitzgerald for their final games after he withdrew from the bench yesterday to be replaced by Brendan Macken.