Wales flanker only receives four-match ban for ‘cheap shot’ on Ireland fly-half

Colin Newboult
Taine Basham elbowing Ross Byrne in the Dragons v Leinster URC clash in 2023.

Taine Basham elbowing Ross Byrne in the Dragons v Leinster URC clash in 2023.

The suspension handed down to flanker Taine Basham has been criticised after he was sent off while playing for the Dragons last weekend.

Basham was red carded in the second half of the United Rugby Championship clash against Leinster last Sunday.

With the Welsh region 26-10 in arrears, the back-rower elbowed Ross Byrne in the head just as the fly-half was kicking the ball clear.

It was described as a ‘cheap shot’ by observers and the Wales player was unsurprisingly sent off by Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi.

“Mid-range” incident

The case therefore went to a disciplinary hearing, who decided that it merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks.

That was reduced to four after mitigation was applied, which means Basham will miss the games against Ospreys, Sharks, Lions and Oyonnax.

“In the player’s responses to the Judicial Officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Roddy MacLeod, SRU), Basham accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card,” a URC statement read.

“Mr. MacLeod found that the incident met the red card threshold, with entry of mid-range warranting six weeks.

“The player received two weeks mitigation due to his remorse, apology and engagement in the disciplinary process – which results in a four-game suspension.”

Head coach slams Basham

Basham’s head coach Dai Flanagan was unhappy with the actions of his player and labelled it ‘indefensible’, while former Ireland international Donal Lenihan also slammed the flanker.

While commentating for RTE, Lenihan said: “It certainly looked like there was a shoulder going in on the back of Ross Byrne’s head there. You see the elbow coming up there, that’s a cheap shot I think.

“Watch his elbow. That should be a card for me. It’s a cheap shot. There’s no question for me Basham knew exactly what he’s doing.”

Fans have been surprised by the apparent leniency of the suspension and the fact that mitigation was applied in this instance.

“Pathetic stuff. So you can elbow someone and get time off for saying sorry after. They either care about player safety or they don’t,” one person wrote on X, former know as Twitter.

Another added: “That’s a deliberate elbow to the head. The ban should start at 6 games and then ask why it should not be higher, not the other way around. There is no mitigating the deliberate elbow.”

READ MORE: Wales flanker slammed by his own coach for ‘indefensible’ red card