Van Graan Defends Andrew Conway Following Matt O’Connor’s Comments

That is the game of rugby.

Munster boss Johann van Graan has defended Andrew Conway, after Leicester boss Matt O’Connor insinuated that the winger lacked a duty of care, and was responsible for Telusa Veainu’s double jaw fracture on Saturday.

Conway chased a Munster kick and clashed with Veainu full tilt during their Champions Cup pool clash, resulting in the nasty injury for the fullback. Conway himself appeared to briefly lose conscious and was removed immediately from the pitch.

He’s now a doubt for this weekend’s clash, while Veainu has undergone surgery and faces an extended spell on the sidelines. After the game O’Connor said:

“Well, one guy’s got a broken jaw,”

“That’s what I’m annoyed about. Surely there’s a duty of care? How is it not a high tackle when he’s clashed heads and smashed him in his face with his head? We’re talking about seat-belt tackles. And a bloke’s got a broken jaw.”

Van Graan was once again asked about the incident this week, and reckons Conway did nothing wrong and it was completely accidental.

“Look, I respect Matt O’Connor,” he said.

“He is a coach who has been coaching at a high level for a very long time. He is a guy who has coached very successful teams.

“Obviously, he has got his opinion on the tackle. Having reviewed the incident again I thought Andrew made some contact. I felt he put his left arm around him. There are certain processes in place in this game to keep players safe.

“The referee didn’t penalise him nor did the touch judge, nor did the TMO nor the citing commissioner. To me, it is in the past. It is unfortunate that both players got injured and like I said Saturday night, at the end of the day it is people, you don’t want to see guys get injured. It is a physical game and in my opinion that is the only thing.”

When asked did he feel O’Connor’s criticism of Conway was unfair, van Graan said:

“Like I said before, every guy is allowed have his opinion. To me, the incident is in the past right now. Like I said before, I spoke to Andrew after the game and I spoke to him yesterday and today, he is fine.

“I think both players shook hands afterwards and that is the game of rugby, that is the beauty of rugby. It is a battle on the field but off the field all the effort is, for one thing, just enjoying the game of rugby, shaking hands and then moving on.”