Ronan O’Gara Has An Interesting Take On Peter O’Mahony’s Red Card Against Wales

Interpretation.

Former Ireland and Munster outhalf Ronan O’Gara has weighed in on Peter O’Mahony’s red card against Wales over the weekend with some interesting points.

O’Mahony was sent off after just 13 minutes for hitting a ruck with force from a distance and connecting with Tomas Francis’ head, leaving referee Wayne Barnes no choice but the give him his marching order.

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Originally Barnes thought it was a fair cleanout but having discussed it with his TMO and watched the footage, the English referee decided that O’Mahony was “not in control” and that it was “high danger.”

But O’Gara disagrees, he believes O’Mahony was in control and that it wasn’t high danger.

“After the weekend, we’re all talking about form, but the most important form now is discipline because the ruck is so open to interpretation,” O’Gara told us.

“Cleanouts are becoming dangerous (for the cleaner). What advice do you give a current back row on poaching and cleanouts?

“The massive takeaway for me from the weekend is: live in action the referee (Wayne Barnes is saying) ‘it’s a clear-out, nothing wrong, totally unavoidable’ to then be stopped 40 seconds later by his TMO. Then his language changes because we’re looking at a still: ‘foul play, from a distance, high-speed’ ‘hit in the head’ ‘not in control’ ‘high danger’ ‘sanction is a red card’.

“And I do think Peter O’Mahony was in control of his body. I didn’t think it was high danger.”

Was it more of a case that Francis twisted at the last second?

“Correct. That’s the key point,” O’Gara continued.

“So many times we land on the back of Francis. Because of the way Johnny cleared him, he went around to have a look. The head pops up… that happens like that! (snaps fingers)

“That’s so hard.

The argument for a lot of people is the speed at which O’Mahony and many other cleaners hit the ruck, which makes it a lot more difficult for them to control their impact.

But O’Gara reckons this is necessary a lot of the time to make sure you get clean ball

“If you have a Pocock, or in my team Botia, lock onto a ball, you have no chance of removing him unless you’re coming at high speed…” O’Gara added.

“That’s not going to change.

“Obviously the one area that isn’t up for debate is if it’s a headshot, it’s a red, and unfortunately Peter caught Francis in the head so we don’t have a discussion today.

“But it’s gonna be [a situation going forward] where you could have a red card a game…
“What we need to get right I think is the interpretation of foul play and what the ruck is and what the tackle is and what dangerous cleanouts are.

“Because I don’t think it’s consistent and it’s very difficult to establish guidelines around it.”

Today Aviva launched the Safe To Dream Team, an online hub which aims to improve access for young people on their sporting journey within clubs or at home, through online skills videos, and advice and support from leading sports ambassadors. Despite the current Covid-19 restrictions, Aviva Ireland, proud sponsors of the IRFU and the men’s and Women’s National Football Teams, will ensure children across Ireland can continue to improve their skills and knowledge, and enjoy pursuing their sporting dreams through the Aviva Mini Rugby and Soccer Sister programmes delivered through the Safe To Dream Team.

The first members of the Safe To Dream Team; Irish International and Munster rugby player Eimear Considine and legendary Irish International flyhalf and current La Rochelle Head Coach Ronan O’Gara teamed up to announce the Aviva Mini Rugby Virtual Skills Hub. This will take place over next week’s mid-term break from Monday 15th February 2021 to Friday 19th February 2021. Ireland’s future rugby stars will have the chance to build their confidence and hone their skills, developed by IRFU coaches and hosted by Eimear Considine.