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'Factually incorrect': Reds' Wilson officially warned over ref accusations

By AAP
Harry Wilson of the Reds charges forward during the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Queensland Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on May 26, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Queensland Reds flanker Harry Wilson has received an official “reminder” from Super Rugby Pacific for his comments blasting referee Brendon Pickerill’s handling of teammate Connor Vest’s serious neck injury.

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Vest spent two nights in a Dunedin hospital after he suffered a fractured neck when tackled during the Reds’ 35-30 loss to the Highlanders last Friday, with the visitors’ angered that no rival player was cited.

Wilson claimed Pickerill tried to “rush” Vest from the field, and his comments prompted a review of the incident by SANZAAR.

Tournament organisers issued a statement on Wednesday denying the referee’s actions were inappropriate and addressing Wilson’s comments.

“The review has found that at no stage did the match referee, Brendon Pickerill, attempt to hurry the review of the injury or the removal of the player from the field,” the statement read.

“The comments attributed to Harry Wilson of the Reds in the media are factually incorrect and whilst they may have been well intending in support of a teammate, he has been issued with a reminder that care must be taken with public comments not to impair the public confidence in the integrity of match officials.”

Super Rugby Pacific said the tackle incident was reviewed after the match by the independent citing commissioner, who found no foul play had occurred by the tacklers.

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Vest walked from the field but scans later revealed the fracture. The Reds were hopeful he would not need surgery.

The Reds claimed they previously made three unsuccessful requests for retrospective reviews of dangerous tackles on their players to SANZAAR this season and were set to meet with World Rugby to discuss their issue.

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