Referee Wayne Barnes sent a Wasps water boy to the naughty step after he instigated a brawl against Exeter Chiefs during Saturday’s Premiership clash in Coventry.
Midway through the second half at Coventry Building Society Arena, Barnes gave Wasps hooker Dan Frost a yellow card for committing a cynical penalty close to the try line. However in an attempt to kill Exeter’s momentum, a Wasps player kicked the ball away towards the deadball line where the physios and water carriers were stood.
England star Henry Slade chased after the ball when one of the water boys deliberately got in his way and ignited a small scuffle against the sponsor boards involving around 20 players.
Once the handbags died down and Barnes had chatted with his fourth official, the referee directed the water boy back to the dug out before telling Frost to leave the field of play.
Following the incident behind the posts, commentator Lawrence Dallaglio said: “Water carriers and their role within the game is an ongoing debate.”
The Wasps water carrier incident… 💦 pic.twitter.com/mHYKvQY7LF
— shay waterworth (@ShayWaterworth) October 17, 2021
✅ Ball kicked away
✅ WATER CARRIER sent off (?!)
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 16, 2021
These comments are a likely reference to the criticism received by Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus for acting water boy during the summer tour against the British & Irish Lions in South Africa.
In the end Exeter came away with a 23-27 win having trailed by five points at half time and following full time Exeter head coach, Ali Hepher, said: “We went into a bit of a safe mode [after taking the lead] and that lost us games last year, big games.
“Mentally, we’ve got to nail that bit down … But second half, we kept at it. It showed real mental resilience to get knocked back from the five-metre pressure.
“A lot of teams would have folded when they cleared their lines, but when we got our chances later on, we were clinical.”