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

Adam Kyriacou
Irne Herbst in action for Harlequins.

Irne Herbst in action for Harlequins.

The RFU Professional Game Match Officials have released a statement after the controversial early reintroduction of Harlequins lock Irne Herbst from a sin-bin.

The South African second-row received a yellow card with 64 minutes on the clock, however appeared to be back on the field just before the game reached 72 minutes.

That took Harlequins back up to 14 players from 13 as they looked to hang on amid a full scale barrage from Bath, who were incredibly at one stage 40-3 behind at the Stoop.

Quins held on

Quins did manage to cling on for a narrow victory but there’s been an understandable reaction to what was a clear timekeeping mistake from the match officials on the day.

The RFU Professional Game Match Officials issued a statement on Sunday addressing the incident, with an apology made for an error that’s irked many Bath fans and players.

“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,” it read.

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

“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.”

After the tight Premiership loss, Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan spoke about the fact that second-row Herbst had returned from the sin-bin three minutes early.

Flagged it

“I flagged it with the referee after the game,” he said.

“There’s not a lot that he 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.”

The controversial moment came less than 24 hours after Newcastle’s consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond had a similar observation after defeat to Leicester.

“I didn’t know yellow cards were only for six minutes these days but it looked like three of them (cards) were six minutes not ten minutes,” was a comment Diamond made.

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