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'The Game Is In Serious Trouble, Because This Is A Disgrace' - Paul Kimmage On Ireland/NZ

'The Game Is In Serious Trouble, Because This Is A Disgrace' - Paul Kimmage On Ireland/NZ
By Gavin Cooney

The fall-out from the Ireland/New Zealand clash in Dublin is continuing, as the game undergoes analysis from some of the weekday outlets.

Firstly, we had Alan Quinlan's strong words in his Irish Independent column, and now the game has been discussed by Paul Kimmage and Neil Francis on the Last Word on Today FM.

As he usually does very well, Kimmage took the wider view, and called the ferocity and frequency of heavy hits to players' heads "disgraceful", believing the sport to be in serious danger if it fails to address the issue.

Kimmage prefaced his opinion by playing a clip from Gladiator, as Maximus Decimus Meridius roars before the Coliseum, 'Are you not entertained?'

I thought I was at the Coliseum on Saturday night. I'll preface what I say, Matt, by saying, in terms of an event, it was probably the most compelling sporting event I've been at this year. Just absolutely compelling. Riveting viewing. But deeply, deeply disturbing.

What the game needs, what the sport needed and needs, was somebody of standing, somebody like Paul O'Connell, or Brian O'Driscoll to walk onto the pitch when Robbie Henshaw was being loaded on to that stretcher, to walk onto the pitch, grab a microphone and do a Maximus.

Are you not entertained?

The game is in serious trouble, because this is a disgrace. What happened to Robbie Henshaw is a disgrace. I think there was three head injuries, a number of neck injuries, and I think this is something that the sport really, really needs to be addressed.

Kimmage went on to cite a conversation he had with his editor wat the Sunday Independent, John Greene, who after watching the game, said that he would not allow his son play rugby:

 I defy any parent, having watched that game, to allow their child play rugby.

I was at the press conference afterwards, and to hear Rory Best say that - albeit not as forcefully - that 'I'm a father of two boys, I don't like seeing players stretchered off'. That should be the main thing talked about over the next week. I know Australia are coming this weekend, and that should be at the forefront of every commentator's mind.

Neil Francis was also involved, and he repeated the assertions he made in his Sunday Independent column after the game: that there was "a darkness" to the New Zealand performance, and that they exploited a weak referee. Francis quite wonderfully said that the All Blacks recognised that "this referee has no balls", and that "we had a eunuch refereeing this match".

Kimmage took exception to the focus on the referee, and asked whether Steve Hansen and Joe Schmidt had a responsibility to address the situation in their press conferences.

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Is it not too convenient to blame just the referee? Surely, Joe Schmidt and Steve Hansen have a responsibility to address this also. Both were extremely reluctant to do that in the press conference afterwards.

There is a quote in the daily papers today from Schmidt saying 'Being vocal, is that a solution?'

Well, I'm sorry, if you're not vocal, then how does this get sorted?

Francis countered by saying that, were they to do that, it would adversely affect them in the next time they have Jaco Peyper has a referee. It is an interesting thesis by Kimmage, however.

Rugby often heralds its respect for referees and its refusal to publicly criticise them, but at what stage does that become a negative?

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Listen to the full slot back on Today FM's website.

See Also: Now The Dust Has Settled: A Final Analysis Of Where It Went Wrong For Ireland Versus New Zealand

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