Welsh captain: Ref was right

2011-11-03 20:33

London - Wales captain Sam Warburton admits referee Alain Rolland was right to send him off in the Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to France for a tackle that was "uglier" than he first thought.

Warburton was red-carded for a tip tackle on Vincent Clerc in the 18th minute, leaving his team-mates short a man for more than an hour in a match they lost by only one point at Eden Park.

The Welsh camp blasted Rolland for days, claiming the dangerous tackle wasn't worthy of a red card and the Irishman acted too hastily.

But Warburton, serving a three-week ban that ends this weekend, said on Thursday he can't complain about Rolland's decision.

"At the end of the day the IRB said if you lift up a player and drop him it's a red card, and that's exactly what I did," Warburton said. "I can't complain. There was no point in appealing against it and I didn't have a leg to stand on really."

Immediately after the semi-final, Warburton believed he'd committed "a normal tackle." But on video review he'd changed his mind.

"I have seen it played back, the tackle is a lot uglier than I thought it was at the time," he said. "When I looked at it on the replays it looked worse than I thought it was.

"I didn't intend to do anything like that and I had only had a yellow card in my career up until that point so it was a shock to get a red, but there was nothing I could do and I just had to support the boys for the rest of that match and the remaining game against Australia."

The International Rugby Board supported Rolland for upholding the law about tip tackles, but Rolland has been overlooked for refereeing any of Wales' matches in the Six Nations next year.

Warburton hopes to hold onto the captaincy in the face of the return to fitness of Matthew Rees. Rees was to lead Wales at the World Cup until he withdrew before the event with a neck injury. He returned to action for his club last weekend and said he'd like to be national skipper again.

Warburton understood Rees's ambition. Coach Warren Gatland will choose between them before Wales' last outing of the year against Australia on December 3 at the Millennium Stadium.

"I can understand both scenarios," Warburton said. "If it was offered to me again I would take it, but Matthew did a great job during the Six Nations so I would understand if they want to give it back to him. But personally I would love to hold on to it after enjoying it at the World Cup."


  • mdcocks - 2011-11-03 23:24

    Respect to this man...he could be one of the best captains ever after having the balls to admit respect to him and I hope he guides Wales to glory in the future!!!

      Phil - 2011-11-04 12:31

      Have to agree with you. It takes a big man to do that.

  • Johnnie - 2011-11-04 07:22

    Something needs to be done to prevent a red card destroying a match as a contest and as a spectacle for the spectators (and some paid big dough to see it). An early red card in a game is basically game over. Why can't a red card offense be treated like a yellow card except that the red carded player may not come back - a substitute must come on and maybe extend the time without the player to 15 minutes. Let the disciplinarians handle the player after the match but leave the match as a contest and keep everyone watching it happy.

      abri.coetzer - 2011-11-04 10:05

      I actually agree. But only with regards to knock out matches. The problem with awarding a red card in knock outs is that if the "best" team gets red carded, the "weaker" team will probably win the match, thus creating a imbalance later in the tournament. Remove the player from the field, he must warm the seat of shame from then onward, but allow a sub to come on in 15 or so minutes. This will weaken a team substantially since a bench is part of game strategy and it is utilized not in line with the plan. Punishment enough I think.

      Bob - 2011-11-04 12:13

      Can't agree with you here Johnnie, the main reason for having red cards in either Rugby or football is to protect players from dangerous tackles that can result career threatening injuries or even worse, if you reduce the penalty as you suggest then there will be much less deterent to a player to commit a dangerous tackle, I agree it spoils the game some but I don't believe the red card is meant as punishment for the team and player so much as protection of players.

      Phil - 2011-11-04 12:35

      Not a bad idea ...Red cards don't prevent players from getting injured as the "offence" has already been committied by the time the red card is produced. Much better putting the player on report (and / or subbing him) and dealing with him in the cool light of day with the aid of video replays. Sending off ruins the game for everyone.

      Bob - 2011-11-04 14:39

      Phil I didn't say red cards prevent players from getting injured, I said they are a deterent from making that dangerous tackle, if the penalty is small then there will be many more dangerous tackles.

      Owentjie - 2011-11-05 02:01

      Bob, you can still make the penalty steap with regards to suspending for games in the future.Same principle as yellow when cited, but the penalty will be more severe.At least it doesnt effect the game that the offense happened.Thats said, if Wales did beat France, Sam would ve beed suspended, the tighthead prop would have been injured, and the fly half. I dont think they would ve been has competitive as France vs NZ?

  • marco.tomaso - 2011-11-05 04:43

    After much debate Planet Rugby have settled on the fifteen names that they believe stood out at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Planet Rugby Team of RWC 2011: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp. "Picking a team was never an easy task and the process started a week ago.Emails were sent, conference calls were made,heated debates were had.Things were said,points were made,tempers were raised and feelings were wasn't pretty." "To give an insight into the thinking,selections were based not just on pure form,but on each player's overall contribution to their team's campaign.So,for example,even if Bismarck du Plessis is the best hooker in the world,his limited game time meant his contribution was equally limited."

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