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Schmidt fury at citing let-off for O'Connell

THE bad blood that has simmered since Saturday's derby between Munster and Leinster boiled over as Joe Schmidt has slammed Eddie Walsh's decision not to cite Paul O'Connell for his kick on Dave Kearney's head and expressed his disappointment at Munster's reaction to the incident.

Leinster coach Schmidt, who is the hot favourite for the Ireland job and will meet the IRFU in the coming days to discuss the role, said that O'Connell should have been cited and allowed to explain the incident that left Kearney unconscious and needing to be hospitalised on Saturday night.

Citing commissioner Walsh opted not to refer the incident on Monday, deeming that the kick, which occurred midway through the second half of Leinster's win at Thomond Park, had not been intentional and was careless rather than reckless.

Schmidt was unhappy with Munster coach Rob Penney's assertion that O'Connell's kick was "nothing really to be concerned about" and that the player had no case to answer.

The Leinster coach believes that the decision not to cite reflects badly on Irish rugby and the Pro12's disciplinary process.

"I think the global game suffers when someone is not at least called to respond for actions that are taken like that," said Schmidt. "The base-line that has been created by the citing commissioner is an incredibly dangerous one.

"Effectively, what Eddie Walsh has deemed is that is an acceptable act on a rugby field – and that is dangerous territory. You cannot fly-hack near someone's head like that. The citing commissioner did not take his responsibility as he should have.

"His responsibility is not to be the sole judge, but to merely decide whether or not an incident has taken place.

"He (O'Connell) should have been cited, he should have had the opportunity to respond and explain the action.

"One of the reasons I am speaking today is that Rob Penney spoke about Paul having nothing to answer for.

"I respect Rob's perspective, but I have to protect my player and my player was left unconscious on the field.

"He won't be playing this week certainly and probably not next week."

O'Connell, meanwhile, admitted that he had been worried about the incident and a potential citing.

"When I looked at it in video, I saw how bad it looked and got a bit worried," the 2009 Lions captain said, speaking before Schmidt had aired his opinion.

"It would have been very frustrating at this time of year. I would have known in my own head that I didn't mean anything. It would have been disappointing if it (a citing) had happened, so I was delighted when there was no case to hear."


Leo Cullen reveals 'my faith in the system has been damaged' PAGE 75

Irish Independent