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Leinster captain James Ryan removed by referee after just 15 minutes in highly unusual scenes

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Monday Dec 11, 2023

Leinster arrived in La Rochelle to take on the current European Champions on Sunday in what was in essence a rematch of last year’s final. This time around, it was Leinster who came through victorious with a hard-fought 9-16 victory over their former foes.

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The dreary weather suited the Irish side much better as the talented group of players bound together to gain the advantage in what was a particularly scrappy game. Despite ending up victorious, it didn’t start well for Leinster as the four-time European champions found themselves dominated in the scrum and struggling to keep up with the physicality of the French outfit. From here it went from bad to worse, with co-captain James Ryan appearing to be dismissed from his leadership role by the referee Matthew Carley after just 15 minutes.

10 December 2023; Referee Matthew Carley with team captains James Ryan of Leinster, left, and Pierre Bourgarit of La Rochelle before the Investec Champions Cup Pool 4 Round 1 match between La Rochelle and Leinster at Stade Marcel Deflandre in La Rochelle, France. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Seemingly fed up with Ryan’s voice in his ear, the English referee decided that enough was enough by stating that the other co-captain “Garry [Ringrose] is going to work with me now”.

Fans were split on the decision, one in support of Carley actions said: “Why are people making this in to such a big deal? It’s so normal to then deal with another club captain. I’m not saying you’ve called Carling out, but many have done. Ryan as you said endless whining and telling ref how to do his job. You can’t do that.”

Some focused more on the way Ryan bounced back from his telling off: “What a performance from Ryan in the second half..he destroyed the la rochelle line out.. a true captains performance..leinster showed serious bottle the whole game under serious pressure..Doris again showed what a proper no8 looks like”

While others were heavily against it: “I don’t think asking for an incident involving your 10 being upended on his head to be checked should be branded as whinging tbh. Carley was objectively terrible all day for both teams (mostly Leinster). Also since when can a ref demote a captain?”

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“Whinging? Were you watching the first 20 mins of the match? Could see why if you did. Maybe had your captain down there been able lead last night you would be able beat a team who came 8th in France reserves.”

Captains need to learn to pick their moments. If you’re at them after every decisions your not going to get anywhere. Ryan was just completely out of order imo from the start today.”

Leinster rallied following this incident, and eventually took home a victory that will have meant a lot to their fans.

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