Condemnation is swift and total

 

THE swift suspension of Peter Clohessy and the belief that the IRFU will take further action has been widely welcomed. The player's behaviour has been roundly condemned.

The former Ireland outside half, Tony Ward, who was a member of RTE's studio panel for the match, said he was glad that action had been taken immediately. "I never remember anything like this. I was watching with Jim Glennon and Brent Pope in the studio and all of us were gobsmacked. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. In this instance the pictures tell it all.

"Anyone interested in sport of any kind will be horrified. The fact that I played for Garryowen is incidental. There is nothing personal in this. I have known several members of the Clohessy family for many years.

"What really worries me is the effect this might have on parents and children. I coach young players myself and I realise that many parents could be put off after seeing this. For that reason I am delighted that there has been a swift reaction and a serious message has been sent out immediately that this sort of thing will not be tolerated," he said.

Asked whether the punishment was too severe, or not severe enough, he was unable to say. "I have never seen anything like this before and I don't know how to judge it. I have no doubt that it was deliberate (although Clohessy himself said his action was not intentional) and all I can say is that I am glad firm action has been taken. We will have to wait and see what the IRFU will do.

"I firmly believe that the game has been damaged by this incident far more than by the score. If this is what professionalism has brought into the game then heaven help us all," he added.

Jim Davidson, the former Ireland wing forward and coach, speaking on BBC television called for a life ban for Clohessy. The former Ireland and Lions captain, and another former Irish coach, Willie John McBride, also condemned Clohessy's action.

"Nobody pretends that rugby is not a hard game, but this kind of incident cannot go unpunished. I am glad that action has been taken immediately. There is no way this kind of thing can be ignored or swept under the carpet.

"Any parent watching that on television would be quite right in deciding not to let their sons play rugby. I have been in many a rumpus on the pitch, but I can honestly say I never kicked a man in my life under any provocation. There is no justification for that sort of thing. It has to be stopped.

"Irish teams have always played with passion and fire," McBride continued, "and that is legitimate. But that puts a responsibility on players to impose their own discipline for their own protection as well as that of the other players. The referee cannot be expected to see everything that happens in a game. Players need to have the right attitude.

"There are enough injuries in the game which happen by accident we can do without things which cause injuries in this fashion. It has to be condemned," he said.

Olivier Roumat himself was more sanguine about the affair. "I don't know who kicked me," he said. "I don't even know if it was a Frenchman or an Irishman. If it was intentional then, of course, whoever did it should be banned. I don't want to complain. It is strange that four French forwards were injured. In the past it has always been France who were accused of dirty play."

Another former Irish player, Donal Canniffe, said: "When I saw the action replay I must say it looked deliberate to me, and if it was I believe there is no place in the game for anyone who does kind of thing.

"Unfortunately he has been suspended in similar circumstances before. I notice that the IRFU is to make a statement on the matter and I welcome that. They have to act for the good of the name of the game and for the game itself. It is imperative that the message should go out to everybody that this will not be tolerated.

"If this kind of thing were allowed to go unpunished nobody would let their children go to rugby matches, let alone allow them to play the game," he said.