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Cullen: Officials must work together to avoid a 'travesty' in the run-in

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leinster coach Leo Cullen has admitted his concern about the officiating in the Guinness Pro12 as the run-in increases in intensity with European places up for grabs.

The head coach was speaking specifically about an incident at the end of the first-half when Simon Zebo appeared to slap the ball down deliberately to deny Isa Nacewa a chance to gather Ben Te’o’s kick and score.

Munster supremo Anthony Foley admitted he had warned Zebo about the action, but it went unpunished by the officials despite the vociferous protests of Eoin Reddan and Johnny Sexton.

It didn’t return to haunt Leinster, who saw some decisions go their way after half-time, but Cullen is concerned that a big call could harm one of the teams as the stakes rise in the weeks to come.

“It’s a tough job for the officials and I think that team of three is important and it is important that they work together,” he said. “There is so much at stake for both teams, everyone’s trying to push on, everyone’ trying to make the top four, trying to be in Europe next season; that stuff matters.

“There’s huge consequences for a team not qualifying and it would be a travesty if it’s due to something that’s the fault of the officials, because there is technology in place for that reason.”

Sexton echoed his coach’s call for more team-work from the officials.

“There’s people’s jobs, it’s a professional game... maybe the referee didn’t have a great view because there’s players running in front of him, but the assistant referees are right there,” he said. “I don’t know how one of them didn’t see it because he’s right there. Thankfully it’s not a decision that cost us, but it could have.”

Things are tight at the top of the Pro12, with Leinster now above Connacht on points difference after their 16-13 win over Munster. In-form Glasgow could leapfrog Scarlets and be just two points back by the next round of fixturesif they win their game in hand against Zebre next weekend.

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