Connacht triumphed thanks to a try that never should have been
EPCR admit referee’s error in awarding late Connacht lineout; Northampton may face investigation into selection
Referee Mathieu Reynal blows his whistle to award a try after Connacht’s Naulia Dawai touched down late in the Champions Cup game against Wasps at The Sportsground on Saturday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Connacht’s sensational Champions Cup win over Wasps will stand despite the competition organisers admitting that replacement referee Mathieu Reynal erred in allowing the Irish side to take a lineout in the build-up to their late try
Reynal replaced fellow French official Jerome Garces after he pulled up with a hamstring injury following Josh Bassett’s 73rd-minute try that gave Wasps an 18-13 lead.
Connacht’s hopes looked done and dusted until they won a penalty after time had elapsed. Connacht captain John Muldoon checked with Reynal if it was okay to kick to the corner and take the lineout and the stand-in referee confirmed that there was time.
Connacht won the lineout, with substitute Naulia Dawai going over in the corner for a try on his debut amid jubilant scenes at The Sportsground.
Quiet was restored as Jack Carty lined up a difficult conversion but the outhalf’s brilliant kick from close to the touchline completed an amazing comeback and saw the Galway crowd invade the pitch.
A statement released by EPCR on Sunday outlined how Reynal’s decision to allow the lineout was wrong but that the result of the match will stand.
The statement reads:
“EPCR would like to clarify an issue arising from yesterday’s European Rugby Champions Cup, Round 4 match between Connacht Rugby and Wasps at The Sportsground.
“The assistant referee, who had taken over as match referee following an injury to Jerome Garces, awarded a penalty to Connacht after time had elapsed. Connacht kicked the ball into touch and from the resultant line-out, scored a converted try to win the game 20-18.
“However, as time had elapsed, Connacht should not have been permitted to take a line-out throw-in once the ball had been kicked into touch as stipulated in Law 5.7 (e) of World Rugby’s Laws of the Game.
“EPCR would like to thank all parties for their understanding and would also like to confirm that the result of the Pool 2 match stands.”
Meanwhile, Northampton will find out on Monday if they are to face investigation for fielding a weakened team in the 60-13 defeat to Leinster at the Aviva stadium on Saturday night.
EPCR officials routinely examine all selections, while EPCR director general Vincent Gaillard was present at Northampton coach Jim Mallinder’s post-match press conference, where he defended his selection.