‘I don’t believe it was foul play’ – Johann van Graan weighs in on decisive Beno Obano red in Premiership final

Dylan Coetzee
Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan.

Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan.

Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan did not believe Beno Obano’s collision with Northampton’s Juarno Augustus in the Premiership final was foul play.

The incident happened in the first half and left Bath to play 59 minutes with 14 men, almost resulting in a memorable win but it was not to be as Northampton ran out 25-21 to win the title.

Praise for Ridley

Van Graan refused to comment on the laws of the game before he complimented referee Christophe Ridley. The South African claims to have no problem with the sending-off despite later revealing he felt it was a rugby collision.

“Beno is disappointed but we are a circle of men and women of this club – we win together and we lose together,” he said.

“I’m not going to comment on any laws, that’s way above my pay grade. All I can do is adapt to what decisions are made on the pitch.

“Obviously everybody wants a Premiership final with 15 v 15 on the pitch, but the referee Christophe Ridley went through the process with the TMO and assistants.

“I think he’s been the best ref in the Premiership, all credit to him and congratulations on his first final.

“I shook his hand afterwards and we’ll have no issue with the red card, that’s the decision that was made. Nothing more to say on that really.

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Not foul play

“I don’t believe it was foul play. It was a collision between two extremely powerful rugby players, a ball-carrier and a tackler.

“All we’ll focus on is our performance, which was heroic. I couldn’t be prouder of the players.”

Even despite losing in the final, it has still been an impressive season for Bath, who were languishing near the bottom of the table when Van Graan took over in 2022. There certainly is much to look forward to for the Premiership side going forward.

While in the Northampton camp, it was a fitting send-off for the legendary Courtney Lawes who bids farewell to his side and the Premiership as he joins Pro D2 club Brive in France next season.

READ MORE: Alex Mitchell scores winning try as Northampton Saints deny 14-man Bath in epic Premiership final