Questions To Be Answered
12th March 2007 By Munster Rugby
Writing in The Sctosman newspaper this morning rugby correspondent, David Ferguson says, “Had (Eddie) O’Sullivan named the individual, that player might be at liberty to consider legal action. The Scotsman is aware of which player is the subject of O’Sullivan’s allegations, but will not “out” the player on Ireland’s behalf in the absence of proof.
Ferguson was of course referring to the allegation made at the post match press conference by Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan that “someone tried to choke,” Ronan O’Gara in the closing stages of the game in Murrayfield on Saturday. And lest there be any doubt about the intent or the culprit, O’Sullivan was unequivocal, “Someone tried to choke him; someone had their arm around his neck, cut off his air supply and he went blue. I’d rather not say who it was. Yes, I believe it was deliberate – putting your hand round someone’s neck and trying to choke them is hard to do by accident.”
There had been no mention or even hint of mention of the incident before O’Sullivan brought it up at the after-match press conference on Saturday but the the Ireland coach repeated his allegation yesterday that O’Gara had been deliberately strangled and that he knew the culprit, but again refused to reveal the player’s identity.”
According to Ferguson, O’Sullivan did not raise it with Frank Hadden, the Scotland coach, when they spoke at the after-match dinner, but insisted again yesterday that journalists should press the Scotland team for answers.
“You should go along to the Scottish hotel and ask them – it’s a simple solution,” he added. “If nothing happened then maybe the person involved in the incident could come forward and explain what happened and we’d all be wiser rather than me making accusations that everyone knows I can’t substantiate. Maybe we’re all wrong here, maybe it was a complete and utter accident or he had nothing to do with anything – that would be the simple solution, wouldn’t it?”
When he was asked why nobody seemed to come to O’Gara’s aid – aid as in a first half instance when Brian O’Driscoll waded in after O’Gara had been late tackled, aid as in retaliation for a perceived wrong, – despite O’Sullivan’s insistence that several players saw the incident , O’Sullivan was according to Ferguson, ‘quite bullish’.
“So you’re proposing that the Irish welly into the Scottish and punch somebody, when there’s a guy on the ground not breathing?” he replied. “You want to save the guy on the ground. Ronan was out on the ground when the guys realised what was wrong.”
Both the Ireland and Scotland managements reviewed the tapes yesterday and both are understood to have found nothing incriminating.
Scottish Rugby Union has insisted that there is no case to answer. An SRU spokesman said, “We refute any allegation of foul play at the end of the game.
Ferguson concludes his article with: If there remains no evidence, and the independent citing official uncovers no foul play from his many camera angles, it is incumbent on the Six Nations Committee to take action. They issued an edict recently to coaches to avoid criticising match officials, yet unsubstantiated allegations of intent to seriously injure are far more serious. If the Six Nations Committee ignore such comments, it would leave a dangerous precedent and a nasty smell lingering over what was a pulsating Six Nations clash.