Andy Friend backs Connacht skipper Paul Boyle after scrum call
Coach also offers a little social media advice to his players
Connacht captain Paul Boyle (left) during their training session at the Sportsground on Tuesday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
There was enough poison floating out the Twitter swamp on Sunday night, following a late decision by Connacht captain Paul Boyle to bullishly opt for a scrum rather than let Jack Carty kick a penalty that could squeeze the western province into the Challenge Cup, to prompt Boyle’s predecessor to publicly defend him.
“Captains make mistakes,” tweeted John Muldoon, the Bristol assistant coach. “I made plenty. You learn and mature and knowing his character he will be back stronger than ever.”
Connacht prop Paddy McAllister also waded in, attempting to condemn the abuse of his leader, which prompted a question for head coach Andy Friend on Tuesday morning. The 51-year-old Australian’s advice is to ignore social media.
“It is unfortunately one of those things that is happening at the moment in the world,” said Friend. “My message to the players is the only person worse than the bloke who writes it is the bloke that reads it. So stop reading it. Don’t worry about it. Surround yourself with people whose opinion you want to know.
“I had this conversation with Paul Boyle yesterday. I am sure you have your parents, a couple of team-mates and us as a group of coaches – five or six people and if you are not sure with how your decision was received check in with those people. Because we will tell you.
“My honest opinion with Paul – I backed him. If Paul wants to make that decision, he is the skipper on the night, good luck to you and I’ll stay that way forever.
“We might have a conversation later around was there another option – there no doubt was another option – but no one can comment on that unless you are out there.
“If you are going to be fragile about it don’t read it,” Friend added.
Ulster visit the Sportsground on Sunday.