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Ulster's Sean Reidy forced ref to hand out yellow, insists Maurice Field

By Michael Sadlier

It's just not happening for Ulster, is it?

As if things weren't bad enough with their form - they are now eight points adrift of fourth-placed Glasgow - and list of injured, they go and get themselves into trouble with World Rugby's brand new zero tolerance high tackle laws.

The laws were brought in last week, so Italian referee Marius Mitrea felt that Sean Reidy's high wrap-up of Scarlets player Aled Davies compelled him to act.

He deemed it a non-accidental high hit, with the penalty try - it might have also been a penalty try before the law change -and a yellow card the outcome, though the officials could just have easily targeted Andrew Trimble, whose arm briefly made contact with Davies' head.

As Les Kiss said, the game is now in a new world regardless of it perhaps being somewhat mind-boggling. Indeed, there is now a potentially rather spacious grey area surrounding how you differentiate between accidental (penalty only) and deliberate high tackles (which can bring yellow or red cards and further sanction).

Former Ulster player and Ireland international Maurice Field has some sympathy with what happened to Kiss' struggling squad in the defeat last Friday in a rain-drenched Llanelli, but still reckons that Reidy's action forced the referee to act.

"They knew, or should have known, that the laws were coming in," said Field.

"So the players really should have been adapting their playing style.

"He (Reidy) comes over the shoulder and you just can't do that now.

"He's got himself in the wrong position because he's had to bring his arm over the shoulder.

"In slow motion it did look worse than it was but the law is zero tolerance so just don't do it."

Field also feels that though the world game's governing body were absolutely right to do something about reducing dangerous collisions, and therefore concussions, the timing is not ideal.

Field, who is also a respected pundit on the game, explained: "My criticism would be that World Rugby have decided to put these rules in place in January which is mid-season in the northern hemisphere.

"It's going to cause confusion as it's very hard for players to adapt to. But it's a positive thing because it's going to change the rugby league mentality of basically tackling while standing up.

"That causes the head collisions.

"So what has happened is that it's now brought back the need for a technical type of tackling rather than, say, body-checking.

"You can bet that New Zealand will quickly adapt to it and that (Ireland boss) Joe Schmidt will adapt to it too for the Six Nations."

Getting back to Friday night, though, what was perhaps somewhat overlooked in all the outrage and controversy was that Ulster failed to register a single point in that second half and against a team playing their third game in 11 days.

Their losing point from the Parc y Scarlets and Kiss' carefully chosen words about the 60th-minute game-turning decision were all fine and well, but, in the cold light of day, they just couldn't mask the flip side from the Leinster game as, this time, Ulster lost their way in the second half.

After the upcoming two European rounds of action, starting with a trip to Exeter on Sunday, it will be back to the PRO12 campaign during the now vital Six Nations window.

Field believes the squad can recover during that period when they could, with the rescheduled Zebre home game likely to be thrown in, play five games - four at home - against teams who, apart from Glasgow, are all below them.

"They still have the potential of making the top four, but they must stay in the top six to keep in the main European competition for next year," he maintained.

"Without that, you don't know whether Charles Piutau has a clause to take him out of here."

Interesting times.

Belfast Telegraph


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