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'Very nasty' - Alec Hepburn sent off for '2005 Lions tour' clearout on Joe Marler

By Ian Cameron
Alec Hepburn /BT Sport

Exeter Chiefs prop Alec Hepburn could be facing a lengthy ban after being sent off for a reckless clearout on Harlequins prop Joe Marler.


Hepburn – along with back row Sam Simmonds dumped Marler on his head following a clearout at a ruck in the 39th minute of their Gallagher Premiership clash with Exeter at The Stoop. The at best clumsy effort evoked memories of Tana Umaga and Kevin Mealamu’s spear tackle on Brian O’Driscoll in the first test of the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Here’s what was said:

Referee Ian Tempest: We are looking at a clearout on Joe Marler, the Harlequins No1. Show me the pictures, please.

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Ugo Monye: This is 2005 Lions tour, isn’t it?

Tempest: Rosey, that I believe is going to be our best angle. So me that angle in slo-mo. That is pretty clear from what I am now seeing on the field. It is two men in there. That angle we have just seen from behind with No1, it is a clear lift. There is two men involved and a throw, there is a bit of a release and no regard for No1’s safety there who lands on his head. There is a lift, a let-go, the Harlequins player lands on his head. The second man in, I am not looking at mitigation because No1 Exeter has released him and dropped him and hasn’t got a duty of care for Harlequins No1. That is going to be a red card for Exeter No1. A clear lift and a drop, no regard for his safety, he lands on his head, it will be a red card for No1.

David Flatman: It was never in doubt really… I think the decision is correct. The right man has got the red card. I also think there has been what you might call a bit of banter, a bit of tooing and froing, some verbals, a few eyeballing one another of Hepburn and Marler in this first 40 minutes, there has been a bit going on, a bit of tension. I wonder if that was a bit of a release from Hepburn, therefore Joe Marler’s taunting and sledging has actually paid off.

Monye: If you look at the actions of the two players, I have no issue with Sam Simmonds technique. Hepburn looks reckless, there is absolutely no care for the safety. People might say we are being biased, whatever, but when you have an 18, 19 stone lad landing perpendicular on the top of his head, it can only ever be red. It does get complicated when there are two men in it but Simmonds for me is fine, Hepburn is rightly dealt with.

Marler was adjudged to “fallen on his head” by referee Ian Tempest and TMO David Rose, who said there was “no regard for the player’s safety”.


Hepburn was duly sent off, having been adjudged to have been more at fault than Simmonds, with Simmonds not being found to be guilty of any offence.




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