Interim Sale boss Paul Deacon has defended back row Dan du Preez following his citing for an alleged strike with the shoulder during last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership win at Gloucester. South African du Preez is due to appear before an online disciplinary hearing on Wednesday evening following a second half incident in a feisty match where Gloucester’s Ed Slater has also been cited for dangerous play.
Deacon further had his say on the incident late in the game where a Sale water carrier grabbed the ball to prevent Gloucester taking a quick lineout, an incident that resulted in an ugly all-in brawl.
There has been much commentary since last Saturday about both Sale incidents, but Deacon, who has stepped up to temporarily fill the role vacated last month by Steve Diamond, believes mitigation should be factored into both debates.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t read much press. The Dan du Preez incident has been blown out of all proportion,” insisted the Sale caretaker boss. “The (Gloucester) player was stood up when Dan committed to the tackle, he has ended up probably two feet off the floor and Dan has dropped to two feet off the floor.
“These things happen on rugby fields. It’s not black and white. It wasn’t pre-meditated. It’s just a decision, he has committed to the tackle, tried to drop. It looks ugly but these things can happen.
Incredible comeback from @JoshBeaumont1?
Sidelined for 14 months with a knee injury, Beaumont came back yesterday to win the game for @SaleSharksRugby with this late try ?#GallagherPrem highlights and full match replay ?? https://t.co/bWcosAs6S2 pic.twitter.com/W0aRRhCM1U
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 3, 2021
“We don’t want head injuries. I totally agree with that, but there is some element of danger when you take to the rugby field. That’s just the way the game works. Dan didn’t mean any harm to the lad (Chris Harris). He apologised, he texted him after the game to see if he was alright. I just saw it as an accident if you like.
“I don’t believe Dan didn’t use no arms. He wrapped his right arm and he ended up under his armpit with his right hand, so I don’t think that was a problem in that incident… it was an accident. He did hit him around the neck area, which we don’t want to see, but there are mitigating circumstances in that case.
“It happened in the split of a second. As soon as you’re committed to a tackle things can change, it’s not completely instant… I do think it has to be taken into consideration. The speed at which the game is played at and the speed at which these decisions are made, sort of split-second instances that things can change.
“It was unfortunate,” added Deacon, switching from the du Preez incident to the subsequent dust-up that featured the Sale water carrier, resulting in him getting sent to the stands and a yellow card for the frustrated Billy Twelvetrees of Gloucester.
“Our water carrier, it was just an instinct to pick up the ball. He didn’t move his feet. The ball just appeared in front of him. On speaking to him he probably shouldn’t have done it but he was just picking up the ball.
“Again, split-second decision to hand it back really. It just looked ugly. We don’t want to see scenes like that in our game but again emotions do run high and it was an emotional ending to the game with a last-minute score etc, etc. Again, unfortunate incident but I do think sometimes the contest isn’t considered.”
Sale have reviewed that incident internally, but they don’t think there is an ongoing issue within English rugby with non-playing staff interfering with play. “We are all aware (of the protocols). That runs smoothly every game. I don’t think there is an issue there.”
Deacon added the media focus on both incidents hasn’t taken away from the merit of Sale’s victory, their first since Diamond’s surprise exit last month. “That’s the press,” he said. “You guys do what you do. It’s certainly not affected the way we feel in this building.
“To be fair that is all I am concerned about. That has not taken away from our victory. We reviewed it Monday, went through the things we can improve on, things that went really well for us and it’s a new week this week so we are focusing now on Worcester.”
Diamond has explained the 'personal reasons' behind his decision to step back from rugby. https://t.co/7ypd6QRzpd
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 4, 2021
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