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O'Connell reflects on 'bizarre' day

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has described the postponement of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France "as a bizarre end to a strange day".

Referee Dave Pearson made the decision 10 minutes before kick-off as some areas of the Stade de France pitch were dangerous after being hardened by days of sub-zero temperatures. The team emerged for a run-out shortly after the decision had been announced, but O'Connell revealed even this was cut short.

"Guys were pumped up and they just wanted to do a little bit of fitness," said the Munster second row. "Unfortunately the crowd then gathered and we were asked to leave because it was thought that if we left, the crowd might leave. We only ended up getting half a session done so that's just the way it was - a bizarre end to a strange day."

O'Connell insists Ireland were caught by surprise by Pearson's decision as they were on the brink of making their entrance on to the pitch.

"I was aware there was a patch on the pitch that wasn't in the best condition," he said. "During the warm-up once or twice I caught a glimpse of (coach) Declan Kidney and a few officials down there, but I was still fairly sure it was going to go ahead.

"We'd prepared that way and everyone else was preparing that way. Sometimes you say you're preparing but you kind of know it's not going ahead.

"We were fairly sure that it was going to go ahead and I'd say it was 30 or 60 seconds before we went out that the ref came in and said it's not going to go ahead."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney understands why Pearson made his call and refuses to blame the official.

"It's a very difficult situation where one man has to decide on 70,000 people all ready to watch a match, 30 players all ready to go and then whether the pitch is safe or not," he said.

"We had done our research before we came over - the Six Nations rules are that it's at the sole discretion of the referee. He had to make his call. We walked the part of the pitch that he was concerned with and I understand why he made his call."


From Belfast Telegraph