Ulster’s decision to appeal Iain Henderson’s sending off at Ravenhill on Saturday would be understandable to Munster head coach Anthony Foley who described the punishment issued by referee Nigel Owens as “an unfortunate circumstance”.
With Munster possibly set to face Ulster in the Guinness Pro12 play-offs, maybe in the May 30 final already scheduled for Belfast, Foley might be glad to see the back of Henderson. The versatile back-five forward had been so impressive against Foley’s side and in front of watching Ireland boss Joe Schmidt until his 73rd minute dismissal for leading with his head or forearm when clearing out Ronan O’Mahony at a ruck.
After the 23-23 encounter, Ulster head coach Neil Doak said his province would be appealing the red card, describing the decision from what he had seen via the stadium big screen as “unbelievably harsh” on Henderson.
“I do not think Hendy showed any intent to go in and clean anybody out around the head,” Doak said. “But I think that has been the season for us so far this year that we have not got the rub of the green in certain decision.”
Initially reluctant to enter the debate with radio reporters, Foley later gave his view on the incident which prompted the sending off. “The rules are clear,” Foley said, “not many people are bound any more when they enter the ruck but you’re meant to be bound and arriving hitting with your shoulder. Whether it’s intentional or not, I’m sure there’s a committee that will sit down and look at all the angles around that. I don’t think Henderson’s a dirty player. Maybe it’s an unfortunate circumstance but when heads collide or bodies go under bodies under a high ball, there’s definitely repercussions.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved