WATCH: Fans divided after Freddie Steward sent off for trying to avoid collision with Hugo Keenan

Planet Rugby
There was criticism for referee Jaco Peyper after England full-back Freddie Steward was sent off after his arm hit the head of Hugo Keenan ireland

There was criticism for referee Jaco Peyper after England full-back Freddie Steward was sent off after his arm hit the head of Hugo Keenan.

Mack Hansen had just knocked on as the clock went into the red when Keenan ran to claim the loose ball.

Steward also ran towards the ball but, knowing that he was going to make contact with Keenan, he turned his back and braced for impact.

His arm ended up making contact with the Ireland player’s head and, after consultation with his fellow match officials, Peyper decided that it was a red card offence.

Some thought the call was correct, including most of ITV’s punditry team, but supporters and former players disagreed.

Twitter reaction

The decision sparked a reaction on Twitter, with many believing that referee Peyper got the call wrong.

“Don’t believe that’s foul play. It’s a reflex to stop himself being clattered by Keenan, for me. Feel for Steward.” noted commentator Nick Heath.

Former England fly-half Andy Goode reacted by tweeting: “Awful call from Jaco Peyper, that’s a rugby incident never a red card for Steward.”

Fellow former international Will Greenwood also believed the decision was incorrect, stating that Steward did not enough time to react.

“Steward had a split second to react – after a knock on – to a man running at him. Of course his instinct should be to make himself as vulnerable as possible – there was no intent – he was protecting himself – what a bloody joke,” he tweeted.

Ben Foden agreed and tweeted that it was a yellow card at most.

“Anyone who thinks that was a red card has never played rugby. If Steward didn’t pull out it would have been much worse for Keenan. Yellow at worse. A forward pass, bouncing ball and split second decision which steward did the right thing and pulled out.”

Meanwhile, Irish Independent writer Rúaidhrí O’Connor felt it was the correct decision.

“Red card for Freddie Steward – their discipline has been poor all day Owen Farrell is fuming, but it’s the right call in my book.”

Fellow Irish journalist Murray Kinsella sympathised with Steward.

“For me, that’s tough on Steward given Irish knock-on just before. He’s not thinking tackle situation. Obviously horrible collision but really tough to get out of the way there.”

Finally, @rugbyandthelaw believed that it was simply a ‘rugby incident’ and that it shouldn’t have been a red card.

“Looks to me like Steward was attempting not to make a tackle. In the circumstances of the spilled ball and Keenan’s attempt to regather, which completely changed the dynamic of the situation, I can’t see this as anything but accidental. A rugby incident. Not a red card for me.”

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