Rob Kearney believes Jared Payne’s red card was 'harsh'

Leinster and Ireland fullback extols the virtues of the New Zealand-born player as a future outside centre with Ireland

The Alex Goode indident which led to Ulster’s Jared Payne being sent off against Saracens.

The Alex Goode indident which led to Ulster’s Jared Payne being sent off against Saracens.


Rob Kearney understands the perilous nature of aerial collisions. As an outstanding exponent of that particular rugby duel the Leinster and Ireland fullback understands the cocktail of courage, athleticism and the modicum of good fortune required to be successful. He also understands the risks.

Speaking at the launch of the Leinster Summer Caps in Hollpark BNS, he was invited to offer an opinion on the red card, brandished to Ulster fullback Jared Payne in the Saracens match. The two are likely to wear the respective number 15 jerseys at Ravenhill tomorrow night.

He ventured: “I still don’t know either way. I think it warranted a yellow. You see, it is tricky because when you’re up in the air, you’re unbelievably vulnerable. The referee does have a duty of care to look after the guy who is in the air. You can fall awkwardly on your neck, your shoulder, pick up bad injuries.”

Of his own
He cites a particular example of his own. “I hurt my shoulder badly at the start of the season against Munster. The exact same thing happened. There was a collision in the air. But (Simon) Zebo was up in the air too. When both guys are up in the air and there’s a collision, well then, that is just part and parcel. It is when one person is on the ground.

“The IRB sent out a four-minute video last week of high-ball catches that are acceptable and unacceptable and how they deemed their level of severity. Their ruling is, regardless of whether your eyes are on the ball, you’re in the wrong (if you are on the ground). Because guys are getting better at contesting kicks, we’re going to see more and more of it over the next year or so.

“It probably was a little harsh, the call. But, I can’t deny it should definitely been a yellow and I think there was a little bit of merit to it being a red too. There was absolutely no intent in it. There was nothing malicious about it. I 100 per cent agree with that. But, my point is that the referee does have to look after the guy in the air.

“I can only speak from my experience. When you’re chasing a ball, you do one of two things. You jump up after it or you wait until the guy hits the ground and you try and hit him back. You never really get caught in between the two.”

Kearney rates the New Zealand-born Payne who qualifies for Ireland later in the year and for selfish reasons would hope that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt might consider the latter as a replacement for Brian O’Driscoll in the national team.

“He’s a quality player, really good. I think the things that stand out most about Jared are he has a lot of time on the ball, he’s a good defender, his distribution skills are very good and he’s got quite a clever kicking game. A lot of those attributes could suit him well at 13.”

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