Wales 19-13 Ireland, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, March 12
O'Driscoll slams 'unforgivable' decision
ESPNscrum Staff
March 12, 2011
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips dives in at the corner, Wales v Ireland, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, March 12, 2011
Mike Phillips scores a controversial try for Wales in Saturday's win over Ireland in Cardiff © Getty Images

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has branded Jonathan Kaplan's decision to award a controversial try to Wales in Saturday's 19-13 loss at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as 'unforgivable'.

Mike Phillips was put in down the left wing by a quick line-out taken by hooker Matthew Rees in the 50th minute, after a ball-boy passed him a different ball to that kicked out of play by Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

Law 19.2 (d) of the International Rugby Board's Laws of the Game states: "For a quick throw-in, the player must use the ball that went into touch. A quick throw-in is not permitted if another person has touched the ball apart from the player throwing it in and an opponent who carried it into touch." Consequently, referee Kaplan requested confirmation from touch judge Peter Allan, who said it was the same ball, but replays showed the officials were wrong.

Asked if he would be embarrassed if he had made an error similar to that made by the officials, the former British & Irish Lions captain said: "If I was wrong I would personally be embarrassed, especially if you have the services there to cover all bases. Games hang in the balance on decisions, everyone is human and wrong calls are made sometimes, but some are unforgivable.

"I didn't see it myself but when half your team saying it you take their word for it. I tried to relate that to Jonathan Kaplan and the touch judge and they were having none of it and it's really frustrating for such an incident to have a huge bearing on the game."

When asked if he had urged Kaplan to consult the TMO, which the South African would not have been able to do anyway given that the video referee can only be asked to rule opon decisions related to the act of scoring, O'Driscoll replied: "I actually didn't. When I went over to him he was pushing everyone away and I told him I was captain and he said that was fine but he wanted to talk to his touch judge.

"So I stood there and before anything else could be said he awarded the try. I did mention it to him a few minutes later after I had seen it on the TV and I told him that it was a massive momentum swinger and that it had had a huge bearing on the game, but he just shrugged that off."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who was presiding over a record-breaking 36th Test in charge of Wales, felt that his side deserved their slice of good fortune.

"It wasn't the same ball so that's a little bit of luck that's gone our way," the New Zealander said. "Sometimes you deserve a bit of luck and we haven't had some luck at times. We'll take one of those decisions that go our way. And I'm delighted with the win. I didn't think we played that well. Sometimes we looked really sharp but some of our kicking was poor. But it's great to get a win.

"The theme after the Italy game was 'let's be ruthless on attack and desperate on defence'. That's sometimes the criticism I've had of the players, sometimes we're not ruthless enough when we've got the ball and putting the opposition away, and we're not desperate in defence. But we were desperate in the last couple of minutes and I'm proud of the boys. They really showed some heart."

Gatland was thrilled that his players had silenced those critics who had savaged them after their opening-round defeat at home to England.

"I hope that today puts things in perspective," he said. "I kept saying after England it was a tough old Test match. We missed a couple of shots at goal and there was the yellow card that Craig Mitchell received, and the referees report came back afterwards and said that should not have been a yellow card. England scored while we had that yellow card but the reports afterwards said they were brilliant and we were crap.

"I don't think we were as bad as people made out. We had a good performance in Scotland which boosted morale and we won in Italy which is a really tough place to go when you look at how they have competed, not just in the Six Nations but against southern hemisphere teams, and we have won again today."

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