Friday 22 March 2019

Alan Quinlan: 'Munster could pay dearly for Barnes' off day'

Referee Wayne Barnes. Photo: Sportsfile
Referee Wayne Barnes. Photo: Sportsfile
Alan Quinlan

Alan Quinlan

Some people may say it's a bit rich for me to be so uneasy by the punishment handed down to Rory Kockott, but as far as I'm concerned he has been very lucky to just receive a three-week suspension.

The South African-born French scrum-half will return in time for the next round of Champions Cup fixtures, meaning that even though he should have been sent off in the 21st minute of last weekend's game, his suspension is of no benefit to Munster.

The idea of bringing in the TMO was to reduce the number of incorrect decisions, particularly those which would likely alter the outcome of fixtures.

Castres should have had two men sent off last weekend and if Munster end up missing out on qualification for the knockout stages, or get landed with a horror away quarter-final, you can be sure that the poor officiating in the south of France will sting even more.

It is incredibly frustrating to see that Munster, who will also have some regrets around how they managed the game in France, should have been playing against 14 men for 50 minutes and 13 men for the final 10 minutes.

That would have not guaranteed a better result but it would have certainly made things easier for Johann van Graan's outfit, who were playing against a side who had no qualms about crossing the line.

Wayne Barnes, his assistants Paul Dix and Matthew Carley, and TMO Rowan Kitt have a case to answer as far as I'm concerned.

Everyone in the stadium and at home could see Kockott make contact with Chris Cloete's face so to think that there wasn't even a penalty awarded against the scrum-half - and that Castres went on to score a try from the same passage of play - is difficult to understand.

If a player under-performs in a big match for club or country he has to deal with criticism from the media and sometimes even publicly from his own employers, but referees might just miss a game or get a slap on the wrist in the background.

We need more accountability for referees - players, coaches and supporters deserve better.

Irish Independent

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