Rugby World Cup 2011

Wales's Warburton sent-off

2011-10-15 10:50
Sam Warburton (AP Photo)

Auckland - Wales captain Sam Warburton was dramatically sent off against France in a World Cup semi-final at Eden Park here on Saturday.

Openside flanker Warburton was red-carded in the 19th minute by Irish referee Alain Rolland for a 'tip tackle' on Vincent Clerc that saw the France wing land on his head after being lifted up in the air.

Wales were leading 3-0 at the time.

Warburton's red card meant Wales, who had already seen veteran prop Adam Jones replaced because of a calf injury, had to play the rest of the match a man down, centre Jamie Roberts moving to act as a flanker in defensive scrums.

It could be an inglorious end to the World Cup for the 23-year-old Warburton, the youngest ever captain in a semi-final and a fine ambassador for a Wales team inspired by him and a raft of other younger players.

Warburton joined Huw Richards as the second Welsh player to be sent off at a World Cup.

Richards was red-carded in Wales's previous semi-final appearance, in 1987, for punching New Zealand's Gary Whetton.

Kevin Moseley was the last Wales player to be sent off, against France in 1990.

Warburton's red card was only the second of this World Cup after that given to Samoa fullback Paul Williams for striking South Africa flanker Heinrich Brussow.France advanced to the World Cup final with a narrow 9-8 win at Eden Park here on Saturday over a Wales team reduced to 14 men after the sending off of captain Sam Warburton with 60 minutes of the game left.

Three penalties from France fly-half Morgan Parra were enough to outscore a Mike Phillips solo try and James Hook penalty for Wales, who employed a poor kicking game all evening against a French team content to soak up the pressure.

Hook opened the scoring with an eighth minute penalty after France captain Thierry Dusautoir strayed offside at a ruck.

But the Ospreys playmaker slipped in the run-up to his second effort four minutes later, summing up his ineffectual game before being subbed by veteran Stephen Jones early in the second half.

Wales dominated early territory and when Jamie Roberts was played through the middle by a deft Shane Williams offload, his pass rebounded off the head of midfield partner Jonathan Davies with the French defence absent.

But the Welsh suffered a hammer-blow in the 19th minute when Warburton, at 23 the youngest ever captain in a World Cup semi-final, was shown a straight red card by Irish referee Alain Rolland for a spear tackle on Vincent Clerc, that ended with the France wing crashing to the turf head-first.

Warburton joined Huw Richards as the second Welsh player to be sent off at a World Cup, the latter dismissed in the 1987 semi-final -- Wales's only previous last four appearance -- for punching All Black Gary Whetton.

Parra equalled the scores after the Welsh, bidding for a first appearance in the final, collapsed a scrum.

Wales wing George North made a fine try-saving tackle on Maxime Mermoz after Dimitri Yachvili charged down a Hook clearance.

Hook missed a second penalty on the half-hour, but Parra made no such mistake with his to edge France into a 6-3 lead after Dan Lydiate strayed offside at a ruck in front of the posts.


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