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'Trial by TV' - Declan Kidney questions pundits role in wake of red card mayhem

By PA
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 17: Will Joseph of London Irish agrue with Stormers players during the Heineken Champions Cup match between DHL Stormers and London Irish at DHL Cape Town Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

London Irish boss Declan Kidney is concerned by the impact “trial by TV” is having on the game after two of his players were sent off in a 28-14 defeat by the Stormers.

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The Heineken Champions Cup witnessed its fourth and fifth red cards of the weekend when Ben Loader was given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle before Ciaran Parker followed him into the stands for an illegal clear-out.

URC champions the Stormers capitalised by producing a bonus-point win that places them on the cusp of the knockout phase, while Irish were eliminated from the race for qualification with one group game left to play.

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Rather than focus on the cards themselves, Kidney turned his attention on the pundits giving their verdicts in TV studios out of fear that their analysis and opinions might be influencing the disciplinary process.

“TV is a massive part of the game and we need to work together, but I think there is a bit of trial by TV,” Kidney said.

“It’s such an emotive and talked about process at the moment, for the process to get a fair hearing it is wrong to try and score points.

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“The (disciplinary) system will go through what it is and what you want then is a fair hearing at the end of it.

“TV is a hugely-important aspect of the whole sport, but it’s the balancing act of having the decisions made before the process takes place during the week.

“There was a time before the TMO or anything came into it that you had to make instinctive decisions over foul play and what was a collision.

“Is the game safer now as a result? It probably is. But on one hand we are asking TMOs not to intercede and speed the game up but on the other, once you break something down second by second then the way it looks can be substantially different.

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“Things are happening which aren’t being reviewed and then others are microscopic and get a huge amount of air time. Is it right that happens?

“One could argue yes, but one could also argue that if everything is microscopically looked at, we’d be here all day.”

Stormers head coach John Dobson revealed that his South Africa fly-half Manie Libbok would be out for “a little while” after suffering a significant head injury during Loader’s tackle.

However, he viewed Parker’s charge into Deon Fourie as the graver offence.

“There’s no way Ben Loader comes in there trying to decapitate Manie. It’s one hell of a tough situation – play was moving fast, it was a two on one, there was a try at risk,” Dobson said.

“You want to see if you can make a hit and move across. But it’s a red card. We don’t view it as any form of malice, but it’s also not great when your Springbok fly-half is out of the game with an HIA.

“I would differentiate slightly between Ben Loader’s tackle which was a high-speed rugby action when Deon Fourie got hit as a jackler – that’s where you’ve got to protect because guys are really exposed.”

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