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Monday, May 16, 2011

Brian O'Driscoll's air punch at Ulster's Chris Henry

Brian O'Driscoll is fairly lucky that his arms aren't an inch longer, as he appeared to swing a punch at loose forward Chris Henry in Leinster's Magners League semi final against Ulster on Friday night.

Leinster, who came out 18-3 winners at the RDS, will wait to see if O'Driscoll will be available for their Heineken Cup Final against Northampton Saints this coming weekend. While he seems to have avoided a citing, there is still an injury cloud hovering over the talisman centre.

O'Driscoll lashed out at Henry early in the first half as the two of them got in a bit of a tangle while competing to get to the breakdown. The Ireland captain's quick left seemed to only glance Henry, with no damage being done and play continuing.

Referee George Clancy was however notified by one of his touchline assistants, and had a bit of a chat with the players, telling them too cool down and direct their energy into the game.

Leinster have not heard from the citing commissioner, so O'Driscoll, injury worries aside, looks to have dodged a bullet with that one. With events taking place elsewhere this past weekend, it does make one wonder if players should be punished according to intent or outcome.

His punch could easily have landed, while Manu Tuilagi's three might have been poorly aimed glancing blows with far less consequence. As it stands, Tuilagi is facing a hefty suspension, while O'Driscoll, who by all means looked like he lost his cool, is free to play.

It's an interesting one. I suppose you could say that had Tuilagi swung just once, and barely connected, it would hardly have been discussed, giving the entire incident a different complexion. Maybe his good aim, landing three from three, is his worst enemy right now.

Whatever the case, Leinster's fans will be breathing a sigh of relief that O'Driscoll may have actually held back at the last split second. Either that, or maybe he simply mistimed it.

Time: 0:40
Note: Thanks to www.dicksondigital.com for the fantastic photo of the incident

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