Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Rolland stands by Warburton red

Sam Warburton

Alain Rolland has defended his decision to send off Wales captain Sam Warburton in last month's World Cup semi-final by declaring it was the correct decision.

Rolland caused outrage in Wales after issuing Warburton with a straight red card for a spear tackle on Vincent Clerc just 18 minutes into the 9-8 defeat by France at Eden Park. The Irish referee was heavily criticised for the decision, though International Rugby Board directives on spear tackling indicated he was within his rights to dismiss Warburton.

He insists he would take exactly the same course of action if placed in a similar position in the future as he told the Western Mail: "If I had to do it all over again I would do the same thing."

He added: "I don't think it needs to be vindicated full stop. The important part for referees, no matter what sport it is, is to take the emotion out of it.

"We can only officiate on the action itself and what he did merited what happened next because it was dangerous.

"Did he mean to do it? Was it intentional or unintentional? We don't officiate on intention, we officiate on the action itself.

"Unfortunately, what had happened gave me no option but to do what I did.

"Any time you make a decision, 50% of the people think it is a great call and 50% of the people say 'how did he come to that decision?'. That is just the way it is."

He added: "The thing you have to remember is that straight after the game there was huge emotion everywhere, which is understandable. But in time, maybe in 10 or 15 years, it might calm itself down."

Rolland has praised Warburton for admitting earlier this month that he deserved to be sent off and said: "To be fair to Sam, I think it is a true measure of the man he is. I don't think he had to come out to say anything and I didn't really care one way or the other because what happened, happened."

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