Rugby

Watch: Ben Kay Compares Beirne Dive With Neil Back 'Put-In' In Gamsmanship Debate

Watch: Ben Kay Compares Beirne Dive With Neil Back 'Put-In' In Gamsmanship Debate

As the gamesmanship debate in rugby rumbles on in wake of the Tadhg Beirne "Divegate" scandal of the weekend, England international Maro Itoje and Lions great Ben Kay both had their say in the Rugby Tonight studio, this evening.

It's fair to say, both men we pretty firmly plonked on the fence when it came to giving us a definitive opinion though.

With the clock ticking towards the final ten minutes at Murrayfield on Saturday, and Munster desperately looking a score, Beirne collided with Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman, going down in what some might call mildly dramatic fashion, earning a penalty for his side in the process.

To compound the controversy, Munster would snatch a try from the resultant play, with Keith Earls diving over in the corner and Tyler Blyendaal kicking the subsequent conversion to give Munster a four-point lead that they would not relinquish.

Beirne's actions have come in for criticism since, with Brian O'Driscoll labelling the lock's actions as "not a good look" for rugby.

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Fellow lock Itoje felt that the Irish international made "an awfully big deal of it", but was conflicted when it came to assessing how he would feel if it was one of his own teammates.

As a player, we're all competitors, we all want to play at the highest level, we all want to get the furthest we can in all these competitions. So, if one of my teammates did that, I probably wouldn't be too impressed with the way he did it, but the fact he did it, I could probably sleep easy.

Former England and Leicester Tigers second row Kay was reminded of a dubious playing incident from his own playing days when up popped footage of Neil Back infamously knocking the ball from the feeding hand of Peter Stringer in the 2002 Heineken Cup Final.

Kay explained how he was left conflicted in the wake of his teammate's actions.

Same as what Maro was saying, we came off the field and we'd won the game, we were relieved and no-one had a go at Backy, but actually the fall out of that was, we were winning at that stage - I think it was 15-9 - and we didn't think that Munster had looked like scoring all game.

But the narrative of that post-match was that you only won because Neil Back cheated and that sort of took a little bit of gloss of the win. In some respects, we'd have preferred him not to have, us defended really well, come off and no one could have complained about Leicester winning.

But as Maro said, when you've got the medal round your neck, you're pretty happy.

SEE ALSO: Jason Doherty, Hand-Passed Points Controversy, The Greatest Sticksmen In Hurling

Aaron Strain

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