The news that Ireland and Ulster second-row Iain Henderson has escaped a ban after being cited for an illegal clearout at a ruck has left many fans up in arms on Twitter.


The incident saw Ospreys flanker Sam Cross land on his head, but it was adjudicated that it only warranted a yellow card and nothing more. Henderson is now free to face Italy in the Six Nations this weekend.

But this has angered a lot of fans on Twitter, who are growing tired with the inconsistencies of the citing process and refereeing in general. As player welfare increases and the laws are becoming more stringent, it has led to greater disparity in decisions made by officials, as some things are punished differently by different referees.

Some fans are also suggesting that Ireland’s current injury crisis may have had a part to play in this decision. With Devin Toner already out, and Tadhg Beirne a doubt (he is now fit to play), Henderson’s return to the Irish set-up would have been a welcome relief after missing the first two rounds.
The 26-year-old has now been included in Ireland’s 34-man squad to face Italy in Rome this weekend.

The incident has also drawn comparisons to Bath hooker Ross Batty’s red card and three-week ban he received in January. Many fans do not see a difference between these two clearouts, and the difference in their punishments has caused a lot of confusion.
One key difference is that Batty was playing in the Premiership and Henderson was playing in the Pro 14, which has led to some suggesting that the latter is slightly more lenient than other leagues. This will not do World Rugby any favours as they hope to increase consistency in officiating across competitions.


Of course, there are some mitigating factors here, and perhaps the fact that another Ulster player was also holding Cross’ leg may have worked in Henderson’s favour, but it is certainly understandable that the fans a growing tired with these inconsistencies in punishments in rugby at the moment.

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