McFarland will speak to referees’ manager about Warwick red card
Ulster head coach frustrated with sending off for dangerous play in loss to Leinster
Ulster’s Andrew Warwick was sent off in their Pro14 loss to Leinster. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
A clearly annoyed Dan McFarland could scarcely conceal his disappointment with some of the decisions made by referee Frank Murphy and his officials in the loss to Leinster, particularly the red card given to Andrew Warwick.
While the Ulster head coach was “really proud of the effort”, he added: “I thought in the context of the way the game unfolded, the things that we could control, we did a pretty good job. There was a little bit of indiscipline in the first-half that allowed them back into the game and then after that things were out of our control, either through the intensity that Leinster played with when we were down numbers or us falling foul of the referee.
“Stuff around the key decision-making in the game is something I’m going to have to discuss with Greg Garner the referees’ manager,” said McFarland whose team lost the penalty count 17-10..
Asked to contrast Warwick’s red card with O’Brien’s yellow card, McFarland referenced the former first when observing: “A forearm that arrives in the neck area with no force versus a high tackle with no drop of height where a head hits somebody else in the face, I would say there’s not many people would argue the first was dangerous, let alone more dangerous (than the second).
“In a theoretical sense, I would think that would be pretty obvious. How it translates into the decision-making process - which I’m told is a very difficult one to go through - is a different matter.”
Ultimately though, his team had surrendered their 29-month unbeaten home record in the Pro14 to opponents who were down 15 internationals.
“I like to think the gap is narrowing to a lot more than the scoreline shows tonight and that’s the really disappointing thing because I don’t get to see how close we would have been. Maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe that scoreline does say where we are but I don’t think so.
“The intensity of their game and the speed that they play at when they’re on the front-foot in attack and in defence when they’re balls to the wall, it’s aggression. There’s a level of intensity to it that other teams just can’t match.
“We’re about the closest, Munster are obviously up there, but we’re not close enough to be consistently better than them.
“You look at how they play, there’s nothing magic. Their system, their shape in attack, their system in defence, it’s not very different to everyone else. It’s particular to them but it’s not the system that’s winning, it’s the individual components coming together into a collective to make that system that make it so impressive. The rest of us aren’t trying to emulate what they’re doing but make our collectives so good that we’re able to beat them.
“Do I think we’ll get there? I do, yeah. I’m an optimist.”