Penney left puzzled by man in middle


POST MATCH REACTION:It’s been confirmed by the ERC that Pascal Gaüzère will not referee Sunday’s return tie between Saracens and Munster at Vicarage road.

Gaüzère attempted to take control at Thomond Park on Saturday evening, after injury to fellow French official Romain Poite, only to be roundly criticised in the aftermath for, in particular, his handling of the scrum.

Not surprisingly, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall and Munster coach Rob Penney adopted contrasting perspectives in the aftermath. “We didn’t always get the outcomes we would have liked but I’m pretty confident we were the dominant scrum,” said McCall.

The 35-year-old referee penalised Munster’s highly rated, and highly paid, Springbok tighthead prop BJ Botha four times in the first half – two free-kicks for early engagements, a penalty for collapsing and another for popping upwards, which allowed Owen Farrell make it 6-3.

Couple of things wrong

“I think there is an opportunity for us all to learn there,” said Penney, choosing his words carefully. “We probably got a couple of things wrong.

“We’ll reflect over the video over the early part of the week and see can we establish some common ground there.”

Gaüzère deemed one of Conor Murray’s put-in’s crooked – in a game littered with them – and there was a blatantly incorrect knock-on call, incensing the crowd as the big screen replay proved that Peter O’Mahony never dropped the ball.

The penalty count was 17-11 in Saracens favour.

“One of the main things I think is you can never ever give negative feedback to an organisation unless you supply regular, and when it’s due, positive feedback to an organisation,” Penney continued.

“The referees, they’re human and hopefully they will be really receptive to what we have to say because we have endeavoured to be on the front foot with them.

Refereed harshly

“We will be communicating with them in a day or two.” Penney’s initial impression was that the Munster scrum, Botha in particular, was refereed harshly.

“I thought our scrum was operating pretty efficiently.

“Yeah, from BJ’s perspective he’s certainly frustrated.” The tide turned after half-time with Gaüzère favouring the Munster scrum until John Smit and Mako Vunipola arrived to wrestle back some control for Saracens.

“I thought our scrum had a great day,” Penney continued. “Did we get two or three tighthead (penalties)?

“They don’t happen much so Paul Mac (McCarthy) needs a big pat on the back, working hard with that young pack and making great progress with them.”

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