Retrospective justice is better than no justice at all but a poor substitute for the weekend failure of those responsible to have imposed law and order on the spot at the scene of the crime.
Wayne Barnes let Pape off with a soft yellow instead of a straight red. The English ref, a barrister by profession whose areas of practice include serious and complex fraud and bribery and corruption, was not the only official at the centre of controversy.
Glen Jackson repeatedly penalised a besieged Wales during the last 10 minutes at Murrayfield yesterday yet repeatedly refused to use a yellow card when the serial offences demanded it.
In Dublin, Barnes saw via the TMO how Pape put a raised left knee into the small of Jamie Heaslip’s back, inflicting enough pain and damage over a suspected fractured vertebrae. Philippe Saint-Andre, a head coach defending his man, said: “I don’t think you can say it was deliberate.”
Well, as Christine Keeler’s friend, the late Mandy Rice-Davies, famously said during the Profumo scandal which rocked the British Government in the 60s: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” Pape’s inevitable citing will confirm match commissioner, Stefano Marrama of Italy, saw it as a red card offence under Law 10.4 (a) on Dangerous Play and Misconduct. If found guilty, the minimum recommended suspension of four weeks is enough to put him out of the remainder of the championship and at 34 that may be his lot for the Six Nations period. Barnes gave 24 penalties in Dublin, plus one free kick. Jackson, the former Saracens fly half who retired from playing five years ago, topped that with 31 penalties during Scotland-Wales at Murrayfield – an average of one every two- and-a-half-minutes. He did bin one player from each side for airborne challenges but did the game, and Scotland, a disservice by allowing Wales to get away with a whole string of illegalities in the closing 10 minutes.
Scrum half Rhys Webb ought to have seen yellow for a high tackle and any one of the pack could have followed him.
Then there was the time-keeping issue. Jackson awarded Scotland’s second try with 44 seconds remaining. Only six were left when Finn Russell eventually got round to completing the conversion but there would have been time for a re- start and a possible Scottish escape had the referee stopped his watch for the argy-bargy immediately after Jim Hamilton’s touchdown.
The next big thing in Irish rugby can be identified this morning without fear or favour.
He hardly had more than six minutes against France following all of a quarter-an-hour in Rome but no substitute has made more of his time in the tournament hitherto than Iain Henderson.
Pressed into late action against France in place of Devin Toner with the match in the balance, the young Ulster man immediately stiffened Irish resistance as if he had been on the grand stage all his life. At 6ft 6ins, a touch more than 18 stone and 23 this coming weekend, the lock-cum-back row forward looked every inch Paul O’Connell’s successor.
Before they invented substitutes, props were built to last from start to finish.
Now that they no longer go the distance, the 80-minute exponents of the grunt trade have become almost as endangered a species as the Western Lowland Gorilla, the Borneo Pygmy elephant and the Black Rhino?
The best part of 30 props have appeared in the two opening rounds and not one has stayed the course although Samson Lee, inset left, of Wales probably would have done so but for concussion against England.
Of the 12 hookers, only one has been allowed to put in a full shift — the Welsh Lion, Richard Hibbard.
Euan Murray was nowhere to be seen at Murrayfield yesterday but then he never is when Scotland play on Sunday, as they do far too often for his liking and those who share his religious beliefs.
Unless he changed his usual routine, the Lions prop will have spent the day attending church in the morning and again in the evening.
“Sunday is a day when I can enjoy the Lord,” he said once. “I’ll pray for the teams. It’s challenging but ultimately rugby’s not what fuels my happiness in life.”
Murray is to be admired for making a stand which has now eliminated him from nine Six Nations’ matches over the last six seasons.
He has steadfastly refused to compromise on the basis that he doesn’t believe in “pick-‘n-mix Christianity”.
The 34-year-old Glaswegian saw the light after a knockout blow against Munster ten years ago which he says brought him to his senses and made him reject a hedonistic lifestyle.
In that respect he is in the excellent company of one of the greatest players of the 20th century, Michael Jones.
While Jason Robinson, another born-again Christian, never had a problem with playing on Sunday, Jones most definitely did.
The All Blacks were never in more dire need of their prodigious back row forward Jones than in Dublin before the 1991 Sunday semi-final against Australia but Jones sat it out even if the result meant it took the Kiwis 20 years to regain a World Cup.
Two rounds down, three to go. So what do you make of it so far?
Jonathan Joseph’s advent as potentially England’s best outside centre since Jeremy Guscott a generation ago; Johnny Sexton’s worthy arrival in the indispensable bracket, James Haskell’s green boots and Ireland’s collective discipline. High intensity and low risk has got them this far but it will take more than that for the biggie against England.
Concussion, French three-quarters, concussion, the Welsh line-out, concussion, the scrum mess and too many penalties.
Put the figures together for Ireland- France and Scotland-Wales and 20 scrums yielded 11 penalties and one free kick...
Nick Easter: OIdest try-scorer in history of the Six Nations at the age of 36 and a half.
Nick Easter — until the other week an England has-been since their implosion at the last World Cup — has reintroduced himself in record-breaking fashion.
At almost exactly 36-and-a-half, the Harlequins man is now the oldest try scorer in Six Nations history. If he repeats the feat in Dublin on St David’s Day, the silver fox will be the oldest British or Irish player to score a try in any Test match, eclipsing Allan Bateman who touched down for Wales against Romania in 2001.
England’s substitute No. 8 will have to hang around a lot longer if he is to beat the world record, held by another back-row forward. Diego Ormaechea had just turned 40 when he scored for Uruguay against Spain at Galashiels during the 1999 World Cup.
Quote: “Ireland are favourites but with the French team you never know...”
— Head coach Philippe Saint-Andre just before Saturday’s match. If he doesn’t know, what chance have the rest of us got?
Quote: ‘’Had Wales picked George North against Scotland they would have exposed themselves to the risk of a disaster for the image of the game as well as potentially putting the player in a terrible position’’
— Former Ireland full back Dr Barry O’Driscoll in The Rugby Paper on his campaign for a zero-tolerance policy on players suspected of having been concussed.
15. Rob Kearney (Ireland)
14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
13. Jonathan Joseph (England)
12. Luca Morisi (Italy)
11. Liam Williams (Wales)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Ben Youngs (England)
1. Vincent Debaty (France)
2. Dylan Hartley (England)
3. Dan Cole (England)
4. Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland)
6. Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)
7. Chris Robshaw (England)
8. Sergio Parisse (Italy)