'He’s had a chequered past through, sometimes, accidents... this was another'
Leicester interim head coach Richard Wigglesworth was full of sympathy for Chris Ashton following the former England winger’s red card in his side’s 20-17 defeat by Harlequins.
Ashton, who is set to retire at the end of the season, looks likely to have played his final game after he was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Quins’ Cadan Murley towards the end of the first half.
In his absence, Leicester suffered their first defeat in seven Gallagher Premiership matches, ahead of the defending champions’ semi-final at Sale next Sunday.
Wigglesworth said: “Decisions are so close these days: one’s a rugby incident, the next one’s a red card, you feel for him.
“I want to protect players, I really do, and I probably need to look at it a bit closer, but we know Chris isn’t that sort of player.
“He’s had a chequered past through, sometimes, accidents – and this was another accident.
“Hopefully that’s not his last game and he had a wry smile (as if to say) ‘only me’.
“That’s been the story of Chris, always in the headlines. We would have liked him to write them like he did against Exeter, but it wasn’t to be today for him.”
Of his team’s performance, Wigglesworth said: “The last half an hour was tough, they played well, but we got back into it and did what we do well with 14 men.”
An early penalty try for Harlequins was cancelled out by Julian Montoya’s score for Leicester, but Murley, with his 15th try of the season, put the visitors ahead again before Ashton saw red.
Marcus Smith then kicked two penalties to one from Handre Pollard to put Quins 20-10 ahead going into the closing stages, with Tommy Reffell’s late try almost sparking a dramatic turnaround for the Tigers.
Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson said of Ashton’s red card: “They are always hard decisions to make. Any time when there is shoulder contact with the head, they could go either way. It was a tough one.
“It was hard way to go out – there are few fairy tales in sport.”
On his team finishing their season on a high, Matson added: “It’s only the second time we have won here in a decade. It was clearly ugly but very pleasing.
“We took our opportunities when they had 14 players on the field, but they don’t make it easy here.
“We were playing for more than they were and that probably helped. If you don’t have your house in order here, they hand it to you.
“It was technically a dead rubber, but we were playing for pride and wanted to finish the season well.
“We stayed in the fight and I’m really proud of the team.”
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Great read. Top player, even better man.Go to comments
So I’m assuming England centrally contract the women as there’s no money in the women’s game? Time they did the same in the men’sGo to comments