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Alan Quinlan Correctly Questions The Actions Of Garces' Assistants In 2nd Test

Alan Quinlan Correctly Questions The Actions Of Garces' Assistants In 2nd Test

The main talking point from the Lions' second test victory over the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday was always going to be the decision to show Sonny Bill Williams a red card, the first shown to a New Zealand player in over 50 years.

Although Jerome Garces made the correct decision, you get the feeling that if it was any other team in any other country, it would have been made quicker, as for all the talk about pressure on referees handling the All Blacks we had heard in the weeks and months building up to the Lions tour, we were given an example as to how real it actually is.

Garces handled the pressure extremely well. His assistants, on the other hand, did not. Touch judge Jaco Peyper saw the incident as clear as day from the replays, and yet still advised Garces to have another look. Up in the TMO booth, the advice was the same. Almost asking Garces if he was sure he wanted to do it, rather than actually analysing the hit itself.

Thankfully he had the intestinal fortitude to stick to his guns, and Alan Quinlan was full of praise for Garces' decision in his column for Independent.ie, where he also, correctly, questioned the actions of those there to support the Frenchman.

We often criticise referees, but Garces deserves huge credit for making such a big call in a hugely pressurised environment. And, ultimately, it was the correct one. The TMO George Ayoub didn't seem to agree, nor did Jaco Peyper, who was one of the touch judges, as both encouraged Garces to check the incident again.

Did they feel it only warranted a yellow? Interestingly, Ayoub was the TMO when Ireland played in Paris last year, when some of the hits that the French players put in were, like Williams', over the top.

When a situation like that arises, the man in the middle has to have the final say and take control. That's exactly what Garces did. Plenty of other referees would have crumbled under the pressure.

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It was as blatant a red card as you will see, so it is absolutely baffling as to what Peyper and Ayoub were looking at if they thought it was only a yellow.

Quinlan, like many others, claimed that if Garces had elected to show Sonny Bill Williams a yellow card, it would have been a blow for the integrity of the game.

He's right, and what is alarming is that if the referee allowed himself to be overruled, the All Blacks would have gone relatively unpunished for a moment of dangerous stupidity from one of their key players.

Fair play to Quinlan for drawing attention to that fact, and you can read his column in full over on Independent.ie.

Mikey Traynor

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