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'Absolutely atrocious' - Wayne Barnes hammered over questionable call

By Ian Cameron
France's Uini Atonio reacts after being shown a yellow card during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Saturday February 11, 2023. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

Referee Wayne Barnes came in for heavy criticism online after yellowing carding French prop Uini Atonio in the Guinness Six Nations second round match between Ireland and France in the Aviva Stadium.


Barnes pulled up shy of handing the giant tighthead a straight red for a highly suspect hit and he’s being slaughtered online for the call.

The giant La Rochelle clattered Ireland hooker Rob Herring was full body contact that clearly rocked the Ulsterman’s head backwards 30 minutes into a pulsating contest.

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Despite most expecting a clear red to brandished, on TMO review Barnes argued that there wasn’t a ‘high degree of danger’ despite Herring having to leave the field for a HIA, which he didn’t return from.

In match commentary for RTE television, Donal Lenihan said he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the decision.

BBC rugby journalist Tom English wrote: “Joke decision by Wayne Barnes. Absolutely atrocious refereeing. Redder than red card, that.”

Clinical Lead of Rugby Player Ireland, Mark Smyth, posted: “Absolutely inexcusable from Wayne Barnes not protecting players that was a red card no debate.”


Ireland women’s player Jenny Murphy wrote: “No one wants a red card …but that’s a red card.”

Welsh rugby youtuber Andrew Forde wrote: “Clear cut red card for Atonio that. Not sure how there’s any mitigation whatsoever.”

Renowned Irish commentator Ryle Nugent wrote: “First half: brilliant, breathless, physically brutal. Lowe try shouldn’t have been awarded. Atonio yellow card should have been red. Two outstanding teams in an outstanding game that u can’t take ur eyes off.. phew”

Another fan noted: “Wayne Barnes doesn’t often get those wrong but that’s an awful decision for the safety of the game. How much contact before the head contact?? Not a high degree of danger?”


There were many far less measured responses from Ireland fans, who were irate with the call.


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Euan 489 days ago

Two heads meet half way. The right call. Didn't even deserve a card.

GrahamVF 489 days ago

Of course we could go to below the waist tackles. That would settle the argument. Then if you get the belly button it would only be a penalty.

Benoît 489 days ago

disallowed French try. Yello seems effin' fair!

Jérémie 489 days ago

To Roy : I'm abosutly not biased :) But it's a fact that Lowe try is clearly not valid.

Roy 489 days ago

I've not seen it yet. But if you are just quoting mostly Irish pundits, commentators and players the coverage is completely one-sided. Find neutral people commenting on it and then you've got more balance. If it's such a disgrace, that would be easy. I'm assuming it should have been a red but it's just lazy journalism... But who knows when you mostly quote one side. I know I'm always slightly biased for my own team

Jérémie 490 days ago

France should leave the IRB, so that the Irish won't have to suck ref' to win game. A f****** disgrace.

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