Wednesday 21 August 2019

Conor Murray: If Tadhg Beirne didn't stay down the ref might not have gone back and had a look at it - it was a penalty

Tadhg Beirne of Munster after the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final match between Edinburgh and Munster at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tadhg Beirne of Munster after the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final match between Edinburgh and Munster at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Conor Murray says referee Pascal Gauzere was correct to reverse a pivotal penalty in Munster’s favour during the dramatic final quarter of the province’s win over Edinburgh in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Tadhg Beirne has come in for criticism for making the most of contact with prop Pierre Schoeman in an incident that led to the game’s winning try.

The French referee reviewed footage of the collision and opted to deny the Scottish side a shot at goal, instead awarding Munster a penalty that put them in position to score Keith Earls try.

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has criticised Beirne, while former players have also been vocal in condemning the Kildare native for his actions.

Speaking this morning, Murray conceded that his team-mate appeared to go down “quite easily”, but insisted that the call was correct and that the exaggerated reaction may have played a role in convincing Gauzere of the claims.

"I didn't see it at the time, I was obviously playing and to get that penalty - (Jaco) van der Walt as going to kick that from 40m. That was going to be a big moment in the game, they'd have gone six points up,” he said.

"So, to have that reversed was great from our point of view.

"Anyone from any team, if that happened for you you'd be happy for it.

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"Yeah, looking back on it. The first time I saw it was in slow motion and it looks like he went down quite easliy. He did.

"But real-time, it's a penalty. It's more than an elbow tip - it's a shoulder. Pierre Schoeman eyes up Tadhg and gives him a shoulder. He's a big man. It's definitely a penalty, by the letter of the law.

"You'd have to ask Tadhg how badly he was hurt, I didn't have interest in asking him. We'd just won the game. I was happy enough with that.

"We're aware there's a bit being made of it, ex-players have talked about it but maybe if he didn't stay down the ref might not have gone back and had a look at it.

"But it was a penalty, it was a catch-up defender that you see so often... I'll give you Tadhg's number if you want to ask him how badly he's hurt."

Speaking on Tuesday, former England international Cockerill questioned whether Beirne’s actions were indicative of a change in direction for rugby.

“There is no need for him (Schoeman) to get involved with Beirne,” Cockerill said at his press conference.

“It has been well documented you don’t want guys diving and making a fuss of things, because you’re going to get it right across the game.

“There’s a bump of shoulders. There’s a player who is 16 stone or 18 stone or so. It doesn’t look good for Beirne from that point of view.

"Pierre could have avoided it – he didn’t need to get involved in it. However, the bigger picture is do we encourage all the players to lie on the floor and make a meal of it so when a player is injured the TMO gets asked to have a look at it?

“It was a huge point in the game. We kick that goal it is 16-10 and it’s different. Pierre must learn that lesson and we can defend better from the ensuing line-out. But also the officials need to decide what they want to reward.

“If you start rewarding people for, what’s the right word?, diving, simulating, making a meal of it... Henry Pyrgos gets dumped on his back when they score their first try. Do I encourage Henry to lie on the floor and hold his head and get the TMO in and all those things?

“We can all do it. Maybe that’s the way forward in any big game. If you get slightly hit, lie on the floor, pretend you’re injured and then you bring the TMO in and you have different actions. We go to the TMO and maybe it’s not a try. Where does rugby end up? It ends up down a different route.”

Murray and Munster have moved on to the semi-final and the scrum-half was delighted with the character his side showed at Murrayfield.

"It's good, it's pleasing. The way we previewed them, that was always going to be the case.

"When we played them in the PRO14 quarter-final last season it was a game like that, the game didn't go anywhere for 60 minutes and eventually there was opportunities and we were able to take them.

"It was a bit looser this time around, we knew it would take a while to get the chances like that and thankfully we did.

"Earlsy, who is having an unbelievable season again, his quick thinking for the first try and then his sheer speed... it was good play on the inside by Rory and Chris Farrell and Earlsy just to turn on the after-burners to get away and finish well was pleasing.

"Obviously, to lose Joey was tough for us but to have Tyler come on and everyone will talk about the conversion that made it four points, but he brings a calmness in a situation like that and that calmness affects everyone around him. Which is good.

"It's great to be back in a semi-final, our 14th time there I think. A lot of lads are hungry to get to a final now. It's a nice goal to have."

Conor Murray was speaking at the announcement that Pinergy will be powering Munster Rugby with 100% renewable energy.

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