Cullen says decision not to cite 'disappointing'

‘Reckless’ and a ‘disappointing’ outcome

Fergus McFadden (left) and Jamie Heaslip joke around during Leinster training. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Fergus McFadden (left) and Jamie Heaslip joke around during Leinster training. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho


Leinster captain Leo Cullen has lost faith in the system employed to cite and punish players for foul play. The secondrow, who in 2009 attended a hearing in defence of Alan Quinlan after the Munster player had been accused of making contact with his eyes in a Heineken Cup semi-final, described the failure to cite Paul O’Connell as “disappointing”.

Cullen said the incident involving O’Connell, which left Leinster winger Dave Kearney unconscious after a kick to the head, has negatively altered his opinion on how rugby’s judicial system works.

Cullen said the kick, which was not punished during the match, was “extremely reckless”.

“Looking back at it, yeah pretty disappointed about the way it has panned out,” said Cullen. “Clearly the player has been knocked unconscious by another player while he was on the ground and obviously my first instinct is to be protective of one of my own players.

“Listen, players have to have faith in the system and I suppose the faith I would have has changed now. Clearly there is an issue there.”

A concern
“I don’t see how the player was going to get to the ball without touching the player’s (Kearney) head, and obviously that’s a bit of a concern,” added the Leinster captain.

“I think it’s all over the web, there’s a lot of hits already, and I think it sends out a pretty bad image for our game. Yeah, I’m disappointed about the way it’s been handled.”

Cullen said it wasimportant for players to know their safety is being protected by administrators and fortyhem to understand there are times when they must show self-restraint.

“You have to . . . playing a contact sport, you have to be at a certain level, emotionally and physically, and there’s always a line, I guess.

“It’s important you don’t go beyond that.I just think there’s a responsibility on the game itself, the people who are in a citing capacity, to deal with incidents,” he said.

Cullen said there was no Leinster reaction to the incident at the time because the players didn’t see what happened as they thought Kearney had been fouled in the air prior to the kick. But he believes there is still time for officials to act.

“Obviously no-one saw it from our side and hence there was no reaction,” explained the secondrow.

"I think it could have been a very simple process. The incident clearly needed to be looked at, at another level and it has not been. There probably still is time to do the citing.”