Fleck: No issues with Zas red card
Cape Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has backed referee Mike Fraser's decision to red card Leolin Zas in Saturday night's 32-30 loss to the Waratahs in Cape Town.
Zas was shown a straight red card in the second half when, looking to contest a high ball, he slipped and went crashing into Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley.
Foley, in similar fashion to Sharks fullback Willie le Roux against the Highlanders a week earlier, landed awkwardly on his neck in a moment that could have ended in serious injury.
Fortunately, Foley survived the scare, but Zas was sent off despite his slip confirming that there was no intention.
But, as Fleck pointed out after the match, safety comes first and he had no issue with the referee's decision.
"It didn’t cost us the game. It was clear that we were in it to win it at the end there and probably deserved to," Fleck said.
"Safety is first in the game and he landed in an awkward position and, technically, it’s probably the right call.
"The red card allowed them to play a bit more rugby against us bit I’m really proud of the way the guys fought. I’m proud of the character of the team and how we’re playing rugby at the moment."
Stormers co-captain Juan de Jongh also saw the logic in the decision, but he did feel sympathy for Zas.
"It is a tough one. Obviously after what happened last week with Willie (Le Roux) obviously for the refs … safety is the first priority," said De Jongh.
"But I also feel like it’s a little bit unlucky for Zas … he slipped a bit and his eyes were on the ball.
"It was the ref’s call … that is not something we are going to focus on or worry about. It is what it is.
"It was always tough with 14 men on the field but I must give credit to the boys for the way they stuck in there."
Fleck said he would not be instructing his players to stop competing for high balls.
Instead, getting the timing of the contesting right becomes important.
"We’ll continue to compete. It’s got to be a fair contest," he said.
"Like Juan said it was a little bit unlucky but the law is the law and the safety of the players is paramount.
"It’s just the way he landess. If he had landed on his hip it probably would have been a different call."