Warburton: All's fine with ref

2013-11-06 14:10
Sam Warburton (AFP)

Cardiff - Wales captain Sam Warburton has insisted the appointment of Alain Rolland to referee Saturday's Millennium Stadium match against South Africa is no cause for alarm.

The Irishman controversially sent off Warburton during the 2011 World Cup semi-final in Auckland for a dangerous, lifting tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc.

His decision meant Wales played more than an hour of a match they eventually lost 9-8 down to 14 men.

Rolland became something of a national hate figure with certain sections of the Welsh rugby public and has not refereed a Wales match involving Warburton in Cardiff since the World Cup.

British and Irish Lions captain Warburton, asked what sort of reception awaited Rolland on Saturday, replied: "I don't know, really. I am not sure what it is going to be.

"For me, if it (World Cup red card) happened again now and I faced the same consequences, I would completely understand.

"I still agree with what he (Rolland) said. As far as the laws go, you have to do it from a health and safety perspective. What the fans think, I'm not sure. Whether they have forgotten about it or not, you might have to ask them."

The back-row forward added: "I have barely spoken to Alain since the incident and have certainly never spoken to him about it. I joke about it now saying it was a PR stunt because nobody knew about me then.

"I only realised he was refereeing yesterday (Monday). I don't think it will have any bearing on how I work with the referee.

"I met him in the Italy match in the last Six Nations and we said hello. It feels like such a long time ago, I've forgotten about it until somebody brings it up.

"I look back at the tackle and think my head was on the wrong side. I used to go in a bit higher, but my tackle technique has changed now and I go in much lower, so that will never happen again."

Warburton said while he was doing his best to put the incident to one side, he couldn't escape it completely.

"It (red card) still comes up in conversation with me. I might be shopping around Sainsbury's, but two years later people will shout from another aisle 'it was never a red card'.

"Whether I am doing a question and answer session when I'm 60, somebody will ask me about it."


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