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Monday, December 12, 2016

Edinburgh's Burleigh sent off amid Papé playacting

Edinburgh overcame a 17 point half-time deficit to beat Stade Français 28-23 at Murrayfield on Saturday to maintain their unbeaten start to the European Challenge Cup, despite losing Phil Burleigh to a controversial red card.

The Kiwi centre was sent off after striking Pascal Papé in a seemingly unprovoked attack. But it was Papé's actions afterwards that generated the most press coverage, and mockery.

The former French internationalist, who has been known to make the most of innocuous incidents in the past, fell to the floor, clutching his face in what was a farcical yet almost comical episode.

Not laughing though was referee Craig Maxwell-Keys. The Englishman immediately called on TMO David Sainsbury to review the incident. Sainsbury ruled that Burleigh landed "an open handed slap" on Papé and that the strike was "minor".

Still, Maxwell-Keys insisted on brandishing the red card, stating that under World Rugby's new directives, Burleigh "struck an opponent in the head in an unprovoked action." The letter of the law being the reasoning, Burleigh was perhaps rightly dismissed.

The dialogue between Maxwell-Keys and Sainsbury suggests there is still much confusion in how the law and the interpretation of it is practised. Certainly Burleigh's slap was never likely to cause Papé any serious harm but the intent and force, however benign was clearly there.

One thing that united fans of both side though was the disdain for Papé's obvious play-acting, and the fact that Maxwell-Keys didn't even penalise the lock forward.

On July 1 this year, World Rugby introduced new laws aimed to clamp down on play-acting and feigning injuries, stating: "Play acting or “simulation” is specifically outlawed in the game in a move that formalises resistance to a practice that has been creeping into the game in recent years. Any player who dives or feigns injury in an effort to influence the match officials will be liable for sanction."

Was Burleigh's sending off correct? And should Papé have seen yellow for play-acting?

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Posted by Stephen Brunsdon at 3:47 pm | View Comments (99)

Posted in See it to Believe it

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