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O'Brien accused of assault at RWC

2015-10-12 15:39
Philippe Saint-Andre (Gallo)

Hensol - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Monday accused Ireland's Sean O'Brien of attacking Pascal Pape in the opening seconds of their World Cup match.

O'Brien was seen in television images striking Pape in the stomach at the start of Sunday's brutal encounter which Ireland won 24-9 to top Pool D.

"It was an assault after 23 seconds of the game," said Saint-Andre.

The coach, who staunchly defended Pape when the lock was banned for 10 weeks this year for kneeing Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip in the back resulting in fractured vertebrae, took issue with the referee Nigel Owens and the Television Match Official (TMO) for not acting on the punch.

"Why? The players have an idea as to why, I have an idea and I imagine you the press also have an idea.

"I hope that next time the TMO will really do his job.

"Since the beginning of the competition, on whatever matter is concerned, try or injury, we return to a review of the images.

"In this case they do no such thing."

The images have been widely broadcast on social media and the Irish are waiting to see whether man of the match O'Brien is punished ahead of their quarter-final against Argentina on Sunday in Cardiff.

"We're all aware of the incident, obviously," Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said.

"The citing officer has got a 36-hour timeframe in which to cite. We haven't heard anything from the match officials at this stage."

Coach Joe Schmidt argued after Sunday's match that O'Brien had not landed a "closed fist" punch on Pape. World Rugby has however been keen to clamp down on violent play.

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