Pat Lam wasn’t smashing any china, but his displeasure still betrayed the smile.
At 3-0 down, 20 minutes to play and the wind and rain buffeting their backs, his Connacht side was still very much in the hunt for a first victory at the RDS so the nature of George Clancy’s input on the hour was most unwelcome.
“Is there any reason I cannot award the try?” asked the referee who fell on his rear end at the very moment Leinster’s Josh van der Flier sought to touch down over the Connacht line. It was a query that left his TMO Marshall Kilgore with no wiggle room.
Harsh? “Definitely, because what that is saying is he clearly saw the grounding and if you go back and look at the video he is sliding along the ground,” said Lam. “So if you clearly see a grounding then that is the protocol, you are just going back to see if there was something beforehand.
“But our players were obviously frustrated because they felt he was short and that they had hands under the ball. That’s what we have to live with, but it certainly wasn’t conclusive that it was grounded. That’s game done there and we have to move on.”
This marked a third straight defeat for his side and yet they still sit third in the table, just two points adrift of leaders Scarlets. Under the circumstances, having just four players in the Ireland squad assembling for a one-day camp this weekend might seem slim.
Ultan Dillane is the only man to break into the reckoning and he will attend the gathering alongside his provincial teammates Robbie Henshaw — still no contract news there, by the way — Kieran Marmion and Nathan White.
“At the end of the day, for us it’s all about the collective, and if you get recognised you get recognised,” said Lam. “There is a lot of talent in Ireland, in all four provinces, and there are more coming through.”
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