RFU saddened by Harlequins’ sin bin chaos amid Bath fury – but game won’t be replayed

Irne Herbst’s time in the bin was reduced as Harlequins narrowly beat Bath – Getty Images/Steve Bardens

The Rugby Union has apologized “to both teams” for an official error that saw Irné Herbst in the bin just seven minutes into Harlequins’ stunning win over Bath, with the governing body insisting the result of the match will stand.

Telegraph Sport revealed on Saturday how Bath were furious to make an official complaint and demand an explanation from the RFU and Premiership Rugby after a Harlequins player was allowed to return at a key moment in the game. At that moment the West Country club were in control and the South African green had not spent the full 10 minutes on the sidelines for his cynical offence.

Telegraph Sport understands the controversy that arose over a timing error made by fourth official Charlie Gayther and that there was no pressure on Harlequins to have Herbst return earlier than allowed. When the lock was brought back in, the hosts had only sent winger Louis Lynagh to the penalty box.

Herbst was shown a yellow card in the 64th minute...Herbst was shown a yellow card in the 64th minute...

Herbst was shown a yellow card in the 64th minute… – TNT Sports

The South African green enjoys a drink while serving his time in the bin...The South African green enjoys a drink while serving his time in the bin...

The South African green enjoys a drink while serving his time in the bin… – TNT Sports

Irne Herbst on the field for HarlequinsIrne Herbst on the field for Harlequins

…but instead of spending the full 10 minutes on the sideline, Herbst is back on the field and in the thick of the action after seven straight – TNT Sports

Both the RFU and Premiership Rugby declined to comment on Saturday night but the English governing body publicly apologized to both Harlequins and Bath for the mistake on Sunday, absolving the hosts of guilt despite technically playing three minutes of the game. game with an additional player.

“The RFU’s Professional Match Officiating Team (PGMOT) acknowledges and apologizes for an error during the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins v Bath when a yellow card sanction resulted in Irné Herbst returning to the field approximately three minutes too early, ” read a statement from the RFU.

“We would like to apologize to both teams for this mistake. As usual, the PGMOT will review all games to ensure continuous improvement and learning.

“The outcome of the final game remains.”

Herbst had a yellow card after 63 minutes and 52 seconds of the season game, but the lock should have been off the field for 10 minutes. Television pictures showed him returning to action after 70 minutes and 51 seconds – a full three minutes early.

When Herbst came back, Johann van Graan, the head coach of Bath, made the fourth official to highlight the mistake and called for the game to be stopped, and the referee Anthony Woodthorpe was not aware of the situation.

Herbst then made a tackle and they cleared the ruck after 71 minutes and 58 seconds as Quins withstood a ferocious comeback from Bath 40-3 down early in the second half, with the West Country club walking away with two points. wasted bonuses. with the hosts getting a full five point victory thanks to the score 40-36.

A crisis is emerging and references are being scrutinized more than ever

The RFU apologizes after an already broken week for its officers. In the previous Premiership round, audio was accidentally broadcast when TV match official Stuart Terheege appeared to not review a foul on Saracens captain Owen Farrell because it was highlighted by TV commentary. Terheege later admitted that he was “disappointed that he allowed himself to be ruled out due to interactions with the broadcast crew and that he did not communicate his decision to the game officials on the field.”

Although isolated incidents, the two controversies have drawn negative attention to English rugby’s officialdom at a time when those who enforce the laws are under more scrutiny than ever. Four top referees have retired from the international game in the past six months – two citing death threats among a host of reasons – and fundamental errors at club level will do little to win over an already struggling public. keep up to variations, changes and interpretations of mountain rugby.

In its statement, the RFU emphasized that it will follow the “normal review process” but it must be asked whether such a procedure is fit for purpose when such high-profile incidents continue. Perhaps the last fortnight is just a case of unfortunate timing, but if another officiating controversy were to occur for the Premiership before the end of the season, a crisis could be on the horizon. It remains to be seen how Bath will react to the statement, too, given their anger on Saturday night and given the promises in what is shaping up to be the most run-in Premiership tension of all time.

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