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Ballymena flag up Best video nasty to the IRFU

By Jonathan Bradley

Ballymena are to provide the IRFU with video footage of the tackle that saw Ulster player Mark Best leave Eaton Park in an ambulance on Saturday.

The centre, who is on a development contract at Kingspan Stadium but is yet to make his debut, was turning out for his club side against Buccaneers in the All-Ireland League when he appeared to be lifted into the air and dumped to the ground after just two minutes of action.

The game, which was ultimately won 18-13 by the league-leading visitors, was stopped for a lengthy period so that the former Campbell College stand-out could receive treatment.

Although the 22-year-old wanted to get to his feet, he was taken to a local hospital for scans as a precaution given that he was experiencing neck pain.

X-rays were negative but the Ballymena coach, Andy Graham, has said there is no place in rugby for such incidents, even though the referee awarded only a yellow card at the time.

"It doesn't look good at all, that's for sure," said Graham of the tackle. "There wasn't any provocation or anything like that as far as we could see so it was very strange.

"You just don't want to see that sort of thing in rugby. It's a sport where people get injured legally just in the course of the game but this was something that lets the game down.

"It was outside the bounds of what's acceptable.

"The referee didn't see it, and he was only going off what the touch judge could see.

"Maybe he only caught it out of the corner of his eye, or had a partial view, because it certainly didn't look good at all."

While Best was quickly released from hospital, his coach was concerned with the unnecessary ordeal he had to endure.

"It's a lot of trauma that Mark obviously didn't need and could have been avoided," he said.

"He's a bit sore but there's no lasting damage.

"But still, it can be a big worry for a player having to go through x-rays and scans and the like.

"Thankfully everything was fine for Mark but it could have been worse.

"This is the type of thing that needs to be stamped out of rugby," he added.

While the practice is not always standard, games at Eaton Park are captured by two video cameras operated by a volunteer.

Ballymena play Buccaneers again during the last weekend of next month at Dubarry Park in Athlone when the AIL resumes following a Christmas break.

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