Johann Muller and Ulster left frustrated by red card decision

‘ I think he penalised the injury instead of the actual action’

Out of Ulster's defeat sprung a debate over penalising the injury or the action. As Jared Payne left Ravenhill in disbelief after being shown the red card by French referee Jerome Garces following a fifth minute collision with the airborne Saracens fullback Alex Goode, opinions were divided on whether yellow, not red was the appropriate colour.

Goode landed on his neck and his injury appeared serious although Ulster coach Mark Anscombe said the player seemed well and was walking around after the match.

Anscombe, like his captain Johan Muller, was frustrated at the decision, although Garces did explain on the pitch why he used the red card.

"He [Garces] said that the guy came down on his head and that automatically it was a red card," said the Ulster captain. "I don't want to criticise him. But I do believe that the state of the injury did have an impact on his decision. I think he penalised the injury instead of the actual action of Jared. I think if he fell and stood up it would have been a different story."

Garces was not rushed into his decision and saw the incident on the pitchside screen as medical officials were treating the Saracens fullback. Replays were shown at least six times.

“What I saw on the big screen is that Jared never took his eye off the ball,” added Muller. “Yes the safety of the player is the most important thing. But my feeling is that Jared never took his eyes off that ball . . . so, yes I thought the red card was really, really harsh.”

“Yes I did [tell the referee],” said Muller. “Exactly the words that I am saying to you now are the words that I told him. I don’t know whose decision it was. I just said to him ‘please go upstairs to the big screen and have a look at it because he never took his eyes off that ball. He did and obviously everyone in the stadium could see the replay as well. I don’t know, fourth official or . . . who made the decision.”

Saracens and England centre Brad Barritt held a different view and saw it as a warning to teams that they must treat players in the air with greater respect. There was no question of Payne deliberately taking Goode out but being reckless can be as dangerous.

“The recent trend with concussions and neck injuries is that you do have the duty to look after that guy in the air,” said the centre. “Thankfully ‘Goody’ is okay but it could have been a lot worse. We don’t think it was malicious in any way but ultimately we need to stamp it out.”

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