Lawrence Dallaglio insists RFU made ‘right decision’ over Harlequins v Bath sin-bin controversy

Colin Newboult
Former England and Wasps number eight Lawrence Dallaglio.

Former England and Wasps number eight Lawrence Dallaglio.

England legend Lawrence Dallaglio has credited the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for their response to the yellow card controversy on Saturday.

The governing body were forced to act after Harlequins lock Irne Herbst returned from his sin-binning three minutes early.

Herbst received his marching orders with Quins 40-13 up in their Premiership encounter against Bath, but the visitors threatened a stunning comeback.

They added a conversion and another try to further reduce the arrears to 40-22 when the second-row was bizarrely allowed back onto the pitch.

Important interventions

Although the West Country outfit scored immediately to make it an 11-point game, the lock proceeded to make some vital interventions over the next couple of minutes when he should have been off the field.

It perhaps cost Bath the victory, with the hosts just managing to hold on for a 40-36 triumph, and the RFU duly apologised the next day.

“The RFU Professional Game Match Officials Team (PGMOT) acknowledge and apologise for an error during the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins v Bath where a yellow card sanction resulted in Irne Herbst returning to the pitch approximately three minutes too soon,” a statement read.

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“We would like to apologise to both teams for this mistake. As is the usual process, the PGMOT will review all games to ensure continued improvement and learnings. The result of the match remains final.”

The final sentence was the key one as the RFU ruled out the chance of the game being replayed or making any changes to the final outcome, which Dallaglio called “the right decision”.

Fellow former England player Ugo Monye agreed and praised Bath boss Johann van Graan for his comments on the matter.

No more than a mistake

“There’s a mistake that’s clearly been made and at this point in time Bath are chasing the bonus-point. They managed to get that but I guess the context of it is that Irne Herbst had quite a number of involvements,” Monye said on TNT Sports.

“Bath at this point were certainly thinking, not only is a point available (but potentially a win). I can certainly understand from a Bath perspective why they will be frustrated, but a massive, massive tip of the hat to Van Graan after the game who spoke about it so measured, so calm.

“I totally get why people are focusing on it, it is a mistake from the match officials, but nothing more than that.”

Dallaglio then chimed in, saying: “An honest mistake,” before adding: “And a fantastic game all the same.”

The ex-Red Rose number eight also joked that he was never afforded the luxury of returning to the pitch early after his many trips to the sin-bin.

“I spent a lot of my career on the naughty chair and I was never allowed back on the pitch before 10 minutes,” he said.

READ MORE: RFU apologise for controversial ‘mistake’ in Harlequins win but result ‘remains final’