Bath angry following bizarre sin-bin error as Premiership marred by more officiating controversy

Adam Kyriacou
Harlequins lock Irne Herbst.

Harlequins lock Irne Herbst.

There was plenty of entertainment as Harlequins edged Bath 40-36 in the Premiership on Saturday, but there was also controversy around the return of a player.

Harlequins second-row Irne Herbst received a yellow card with 64 minutes on the clock but appeared to be back on the field just before the game hit 72 minutes.

That put Quins back up to 14 men from 13 as they looked to hang on amid a full scale fightback from Bath, who were incredibly at one stage 40-3 behind.

Harlequins held on

Quins managed to cling on for a narrow victory but there’s been an understandable reaction to what appears to be a mistake from the match officials on the day.

Anthony Woodthorpe was the referee at the Stoop but the responsibility of returning sin-binned players should fall on a fourth official, who is on the sidelines.

The incident was spotted by more than one party as here RugbyInsideLine maps out a timeline of Harlequins’ Herbst leaving the field and when he returned.

Tight Five Rugby did something similar and included a quote from Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan, who was clearly aware of the incident after the loss.

Van Graan continued: “There’s not a lot that he (the referee) can do, on the pitch he wasn’t even aware of it.

“We went through our team manager and we made the fourth official aware.

“On a yellow card, you’re supposed to be off for 10 minutes, not seven.”

Understandably, it’s led to quite a few replies from viewers of the game, with one user on X, formerly Twitter, not holding back on the return of Herbst.

“That is absolutely shameful. How can people get this wrong?” they wrote, while another user, George, added: “Even as a quins fan I was confused what happened.”

Friday incident?

Furthermore, it appears this is not an isolated incident as Newcastle Falcons’ media manager Mark Smith replied to RugbyInsideLine’s post with a similar moment.

“There were a few eyebrows raised last night in the Falcons v Tigers game, also, as to how quickly the sin-binned Leicester players were actually back on the field,” he wrote.

“Dimes (Steve Diamond) mentioned it in his presser, with the caveat ‘it wasn’t the reason we lost and I’m not having a whinge’.”

No doubt there will be more reaction to the alleged incident at the Stoop as both coaches are quizzed on what happened, with some of Bath’s players clearly unhappy.

It also follows a controversial moment from the Premiership last weekend, which saw the TMO accused of ignoring foul play after co-commentator Austin Healey brought up the incident.

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