Tuesday 12 November 2019

O'Donnell injury mars Munster win as Zebo says sorry

Tommy O’Donnell of Munster leaves the field after picking up an injury during the Heineken Champions Cup Round Pool 2 Round 2 match between Munster and Gloucester at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Tommy O’Donnell of Munster leaves the field after picking up an injury during the Heineken Champions Cup Round Pool 2 Round 2 match between Munster and Gloucester at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Munster secured the bonus-point win they wanted against Gloucester at Thomond Park yesterday but paid a high price in the process with three players going off with serious injuries.

The home side were helped to a two-point lead at the top of Pool 2 by a red card in the first half for Gloucester's Danny Cipriani, but the win was overshadowed by the loss of Tommy O'Donnell, Dan Goggin and Rhys Marshall.

Marshall went off at the break with an injury to his upper leg, a couple of minutes after O'Donnell - whose career has been punctuated by serious injury - with a suspected broken leg. The game was almost done when Goggin was floored in an awkward collision that damaged his knee.

"It's a big loss," coach Johann van Graan said. "Only eight weeks into the season and three starters going down like this. With all the injuries that we have currently it's a long season ahead and it's worrying from our side. We talk about player welfare? The game is becoming more and more physical."

The most controversial point of the game, however, came inside half an hour when Cipriani saw red for a high tackle on Rory Scannell. Cipriani went in to assist a team-mate in the tackle but came in upright and his shoulder collided with Scannell's jaw. Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann did his best afterwards not to comment on the incident.

"I've got a lot to say, but I'm not going to say it," he said. "It's not going to change anything. Danny is disappointed. If they come and watch how he trains, that's how he protects himself. It's a normal habit. He didn't even want to tackle the guy. He wanted to get out of it. It's done and dusted. If the supporters come and pay to watch 14 v 15 . . . that's a great way for rugby (to go) forward.

"The law protects the player - sometimes it's what we call an accident. If you hit your car it's an accident, you don't plan for it. Get on a plane, maybe it's going to fall. Some back-rowers make 25 tackles in a game, they get one wrong and now they say he has bad technique. What about the 24 great tackles? We can debate this over and over. The biggest thing, I say, is: do we constantly want to see 14 play 15? I don't know."

Simon Zebo, meanwhile, apologised to Ulster's Michael Lowry after taunting the full-back on his way to scoring Racing 92's fifth try in last night's Champions Cup clash between the sides at the La Defense Arena in Paris.

The former Munster star went to the away team's dressing-room to offer his jersey to in an attempt to make up for the incident after his team's 44-12 win.

As he passed the 20-year-old on the outside, Zebo wagged a finger at his opponent. Referee Nigel Owens ordered him to say sorry on the field and he made sure to reiterate the apology after the game.

"I'm still sick about it," Zebo said. "I had to wait 10 minutes outside the dressing-room to give him my jersey and apologise again. I've played the game for I don't know how many years and I've never done anything like that, I just got too excited."

This afternoon, reigning champions Leinster travel to France to take on fellow four-time competition winners Toulouse.

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