Referee followed ‘foul play’ protocol in Georgia game 

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt in conversation with referee JP Doyle before yesterday's clash with Georgia. Picture: Brendan Moran

Joe Schmidt last night backed ref JP Doyle’s handling of suspected foul play by a Georgian player on Ireland flanker Dominc Ryan.

Georgian back row Viktor Kolelishvili’s boot appeared to make contact with Test debutant Ryan’s eye as the Leinster man lay prone in a ruck during the 29th minute of Ireland’s 49-7 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

Neither referee Doyle nor his touch judge Luke Pearce spotted the incident and when Ireland captain Eoin Reddan asked the RFU-affiliated Dublin-born official to consult his TMO, Scotland’s Jim Yuille, for a video review, Doyle declined the opportunity.

Kolelishvili may well hear from the citing commissioner over the incident but as far as Ireland head coach Schmidt is concerned, referee Doyle did as much as he could.

“The protocol is there is suspected foul play the TMO can intervene and he can let the referee know he believes there has been an incident of foul play and the referee can review it in conjunction with the TMO,” Schmidt said. “But obviously the incident had passed and I think by the time Eoin spoke to the ref the game had moved on a little and he heard nothing from the TMO.

“According to the protocol I think he (Doyle) acted correctly. There’s not much else really JP Doyle could have done. It’s just a matter of that’s the way it works and I suppose it’s something I know as Eoin said, it is talked about a fair bit and it’s one of those things they may change at some stage but currently his hands are tied a little bit.

“He didn’t see it himself . Luke Pearce on the touchline didn’t see it, therefore if there was an incident then it has to be dealt with by the TMO pretty much in close proximity in time otherwise once the game moves on it’s pretty hard to go a long way back.”

Referring to the incident Georgia coach Milton Haig said Kolelishvili would not have done anything like that intentionally and his fellow New Zealander Schmidt struck a diplomatic tone.

“I saw a snapshot of it, so I don’t know how it occurred,” the Ireland boss said. “It didn’t look great at the end of it, but I didn’t see how it occurred. Rugby is a game where things can happen and I think it’s one of the things we’ll have a look at. I don’t think we’ll be the only ones who’ll have a look at it.”

Ryan, who was well enough to complete the 80 minutes, said of Kolelishvili’s act: “I doubt if it was intentional, maybe a bit reckless but (the ref) said he couldn’t go to the big screen. That’s rugby, it was directly in my eye but I don’t think it was intentional. It was a mistake, he was coming through the ruck”

Ryan’s fortune in evading injury was replicated across the Ireland team, leaving Schmidt to wait for news of progress on existing casualty Jared Payne (sprained foot) ahead of Saturday’s final Guinness Series Test against Australia.

“We don’t perceive any injuries currently,” Schmidt said. “Everyone came through that okay enough. Jared is walking around pretty well. I’d say Tuesday is the earliest I could answer that question because we would be hopeful he might train Tuesday. If he can train on Tuesday he will be in the mix.”

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