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'I don't see Tom Wood as a dirty player necessarily': Leinster react to incident with van der Flier

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Leinster boss Leo Cullen has refused to criticise referee Pierre Brousset and his team of officials after Northampton’s Tom Wood escaped punishment in Dublin for an awkward-looking breakdown clearout of Josh van der Flier. 


The Irish province won the round two Champions Cup clash by 35-19 and the main talking point in the aftermath of a messy match was the second-half hit by Wood on van der Flier as the Leinster flanker protected ruck ball. 

Watching the game live in the stadium, it appeared as it Wood had illegally made contact with the head of van der Flier. However, French referee Brousset and his TMO Olly Hodges reviewed the footage and concluded there was nothing wrong. 

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It was a decision that took those watching by surprise – but Leinster boss Cullen diplomatically refused to cause a fuss in the aftermath.   

“It has been checked that incident,” he said. “The officials have gone and checked it. It is different if the incident hasn’t been checked, so they have checked it and they have made a decision. 

“I haven’t looked at it since the game. I looked at it briefly in the moment. They deemed there is a wrap there from Tom Wood. I don’t see Tom Wood as a dirty player necessarily and it has been checked by the officials. That is all you can really ask for, that they are being checked. 

“I’ll have to have a look at it again. Again, decision made, Josh is up and about. We had other things we were worrying about up here (in the coaches’ box) at that point of time.


“Decisions get made. We go through due process after every game. We will go through the appropriate channels and we will always ask questions. Every game we will always put in some sort of feedback to referees and ask questions, what is the situation with this, this and this? That is what we will do again as normal.”

Leinster, who were 14 points up early on, found themselves relying on two last-quarter penalties to stem an unexpected Northampton resurgence in a niggly game affected by a swirling wind. Cullen lost Caelan Doris on the morning of the game, Harry Byrne in the Leinster warm-up, Jimmy O’Brien to HIA and Garry Ringrose to bangs to the ribs either side of passing his HIA.  

“There was a lot in the game, niggly bits. Conditions were very tricky, very windy, so the ball was hanging in the air which was bringing defence onto the attacking team. We had lots of disruption.

“We were a little bit off in terms of some of our contacts in defence which gives Northampton go forward and we make hard work of some of our exits. It was a messy game. Even when we scored on half-time, scored after half time, we gave away another try for the charge down. It was back and forth, very messy from both teams overall.”

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