The Guinness PRO14 has faced a rollicking from fans this week after the starkly different punishments handed to Munster’s Peter O’Mahony and Cardiff Blues’ Josh Turnbull. 

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Ireland flanker O’Mahony was shown two yellow cards last weekend in the Irish province’s opening round PRO14 win over the Scarlets. The second was for an elbow to the head of Jake Ball on the ground, something that was widely deemed unnecessary and violent. 

However, the back row was not handed a ban after a judicial review. A PRO14 statement read: “Judicial officer Kathrine Mackie found after referring to the methodology in the disciplinary rules and the application of mitigating and aggravating features that the sending off was sufficient. The player is available for selection on Saturday.”

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In contrast, Wales’ Turnbull was given a three-week ban following his high tackle on Zebre’s Maxime Mbanda, for which he saw red last Friday in Parma.  

There were clearly differences in the two offences, most noticeably that one was a red card and the other a yellow. However, that hasn’t stopped exasperated fans from comparing the two offences. 

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The problem of consistency in the judicial process has arisen again, with many feeling Irish players are given preferential treatment. Moreover, it has frequently been mentioned online that there was clearly no ill intent in Turnbull’s poorly timed tackle, while O’Mahony’s challenge was full of malice. This has led to calls for the PRO 14 to justify their verdicts.

Erroneous tackles are part of the game while the Irishman’s act was not, so it is understandable why there has been such an impassioned response. 

Given the standards of officiating these days, the decision to send Turnbull off was correct and his ban was also just. The trouble, however, is that it’s always dangerous territory to start comparing different offences, but when they happen over the same weekend it’s hard for fans not to. 

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