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Thursday 21 March 2019

Sexton, Lowe, Furlong could be cited

FIERY: Jonathan Sexton looks to have words with a prone Joey Carbery. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
FIERY: Jonathan Sexton looks to have words with a prone Joey Carbery. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Leinster will wait to see how the citing commissioner deals with incidents involving Jonathan Sexton, James Lowe and Tadhg Furlong.

The loss of points suffered against Munster could pale in comparison to the possible citings on their way.

There is a 72-hour window open to inform Leinster of any decision to cite.

The charges, should they be made, are likely to be made public sometime today.

The defence of their European crown could be placed in jeopardy by the undisciplined incidents.

Referee Frank Murphy showed considerable restraint and cool in handing out well thought-out decisions.

Understandably, the former Munster, Connacht and Leicester Tigers scrum-half tried to enable a cracking contest by erring on the side of the spirit of the game rather than adhering to the letter of the law.

However, the citing commissioner would be derelict in his duties were James Lowe and Tadhg Furlong not ordered to appear before an Independent Disciplinary Committee this week.

Lowe committed the cardinal sin of failing to get off the floor to challenge Andrew Conway for the only red card of the game.

In fairness, the left wing only had eyes for the ball - this is his most convincing mitigating factor - in what was a complete accident.

In the case of Furlong, the tight-head prop did enter the contact area shoulder first, making contact with Chris Cloete's forehead. Referee Murphy did consider that the collision was exacerbated by Cloete's head whipping around to connect with Furlong rather than the prop aiming for the head.

Difficult

In hindsight, it is difficult not to interpret the act as worthy of a red card, using the same standard as in the Conway incident where there has to be a duty of care shown to the defenceless player.

Were Leinster to lose their most potent attacking weapon Lowe and/or anchorman Furlong, it would instantly reduce their chances of completing a double over Toulouse at home on January 12 and Wasps away on January 20.

Even they could be dwarfed by any sanction, if that came to pass, handed down to Sexton. An incident in the 56th minute involving contact by Sexton with Joey Carbery could cause problems for the Blues outhalf.

There would appear to be a case to answer for Sexton.

There was great credit due to Carbery for how he did not make anything of it, other than to shake it off and get back in the defensive line.

The PRO14 rule for 'foul play' states how a citing commissioner "shall be entitled to cite a player for any acts of foul play that in the opinion of the Citing Commissioner warranted the player being shown a red card, even where such act(s) may have been detected by the referee and/or touch judge(s) and may have been the subject of action taken by them."

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