Walder blasts 16-man fiasco as England international leaves club
Newcastle boss Dave Walder wants to ensure no other Premiership game is disfigured by the scenario that allowed Bath to have 16 men on the pitch during the final minutes of the Falcons 24-16 defeat at the Recreation Ground.
Walder raised the issue with Paul Hull, the new RFU head of professional game match officials, and believes the situation should never be allowed to happen again with so many officials now involved in managing a Premiership game.
Walder said: ”There were 16 bath players on the pitch for 34 seconds and the reality as I said to Paul Hull it had no bearing on us winning the game – there was a 1min 14 seconds left and we were eight points down. I just think that at professional level with a team of five – and I include the television match official – I don’t think it is acceptable you have 16 men on the pitch for any reason.
“The explanation I got back was that the assistant referees were aware of the situation and a Bath player was meant to be leaving on the other side of the pitch and then when the ball came towards him he didn’t. The officials acted immediately and the ball was blown dead and there was 34 seconds and while they held their hands up and said it was a mistake I don’t believe it should happen at professional level.
“It just added to my frustrations around the game and the communications between referee, assistant referees and TMO. The referee has ultimate control around the playing environment and the buck stops with him. The team managers give the fourth official a card about who is coming on and I would expect the official to watch who is coming off and going on. For some reason it was missed.”
Falcons wing Nathan Earle has left the club to take up a playing opportunity with Championship side, Ealing Trailfinders. Walder said: “I would like to thank Nathan for his contribution during his time with us, and wish him and his family the very best for their return to London.
“We are fortunate to be blessed with a wealth of talent on the wing with fierce competition for places, and I have enjoyed working with Nathan during his time with us.”
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