Munster head coach Rob Penney has called for action to be taken against Perpignan for what he believes was “undue pressure” placed on Saturday’s referee JP Doyle ahead of the crunch Heineken Cup clash.
The Irish province scored a dramatic, last-minute 18-17 victory at Stade Aimé Giral in spite of the home side appearing to get the rub of the green in many refereeing decisions by the RFU official.
Chief among them was Doyle’s decision not to refer to the TMO for Perpignan’s late and potentially game-winning try when there was clear evidence, backed up by television replays, of a least one forward pass in the lead-up to Tommaso Benvenuti’s 78th minute score.
Doyle had earlier used the stadium big screen to witness Perpignan back-rower Dan Leo’s possible stamp on a prone Johne Murphy and then throw punches at James Cronin. However, having seconds before issued yellow cards to Munster captain Peter O’Mahony and home hooker Romain Terrain for a dust-up during an almost simultaneous incident, he declined to sanction Leo for what appeared a more serious offence.
Penney refused to criticise Doyle, instead referring to Perpignan’s public outrage voiced at the previous week’s referee, England’s Greg Garner, for supposed bias towards Munster at Thomond Park. The New Zealander had warned of a Perpignan ambush as a result and when asked to comment on Doyle’s performance he said: “It is a difficult job coming into France, particularly the way the Perpignan staff probably put undue pressure on the referees on the back of last week’s performance.
“It would be great to see some repercussions because otherwise all coaches will just go forward and criticise the heck out of the administrators.
“And we can’t do that. It is a tough job being out there. The TMO is there to support them and help them make good decisions and they are reluctant to go to TMO because they feel under some sort of external pressure, [then] we are not doing the game justice.
“It didn’t cost us today, we’ll move on, and I’m sure JP will get some learnings out of it as well.”
Penney admitted his exasperation at the failure, despite repeated requests from Munster players, to go upstairs to the TMO when Perpignan’s David Marty appeared to make a forward pass to full-back Joffrey Michel, who in turn sent Benvenuti stretching his arms out in front to collect his pass.
“That almost broke me,” Penney said. “I just didn’t understand how a lot of innocuous things get referred to the TMO because nobody wants to make a mistake.
“I’m all for referees having the balls to make a decision. I think that’s part of what they are out there to do but if there is any doubt, if there is any doubt, it should go [to the TMO].
“He was comfortable that there was no doubt, obviously. Butit was clear there was probably one, probably two forward passes along that movement. That could have cost us massively.
“That was the disappointing thing.”
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