Sunday Apr 14, 2013 Paul O'Connell knocks out Dave Kearney with clumsy kick to the head

Paul O'Connell knocks out Dave Kearney with clumsy kick to the head
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Comments

Leinster beat Munster 22-16 at a wet Thomond Park thanks to a late match-winning try by Brian O’Driscoll, but it was an ugly incident in the last quarter that had everyone talking, and could mean a few weeks on the sideline for Paul O’Connell.

The Leinster win meant that they move to second on the RaboDirect Pro12 table, three points behind leaders Ulster. O’Driscoll’s try actually came from over 25 phases of possesion, before the Ireland legend dived over from close to seal the win.

Earlier in the game O’Connell, who has been in great form, kicked at the ball with little regard for Dave Kearney, who had his hand on the ball and his head between it and POC’s sizable boot.

Kearney left the field unconcious from the blow, and referee Nigel Owens and his officials failed to see it, so O’Connell avoided punishment at the time. 

“He was unconscious for a period of time. He’s come back around and has probably asked the question 10 times, ‘Did I catch it?'” Leinster coach Joe Schmidt told TheScore.

“He’s going to be pretty relieved when he sees the footage that he did catch the ball. He’s not in great shape at the moment. The main disappointment at the moment is, he has really come on.

“He’s played a number of games in a row and was getting into a rhythm. He’s likely to miss a few games now. That’s probably his biggest frustration,” he added.

View a highlights recap from the game on page 2

Clearly dangerous, it was more irresponsible than intentional – what kind of ban will this bring?

UPDATE: O’Connell has escaped sanction after the incident was viewed by citing commissioner Eddie Walsh to be careless and nothing more. It was decided that he was making a genuine attempt to kick the ball, and there was no deliberate intent.

View full match highlights of Munster vs Leinster from Thomond Park

Time: 4:52
Credit: rabodirectpro12

53 Comments

  •  mastersa
    mastersa

    Owen's should have blown up as Kearny was off his feet catching the ball when 15 who made no attempt to catch took him out and the officials let themselve down two seconds later with not spotting that wreckless kick. Finally, compounded by no citing for this Wreckless endagerment. Wrong! Sends the wrong message to parents thinking of getting their kids into this great sport. Actions should be based on what happenend and not the previous perceived good charactor of Paul O'Connell whom I am as it happens a fan of.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think we both probably agree on the incident, our disagreement comes when we talk about the punishment or no punishment. I personally tend to view red cards as something given to the most deliberate heinous acts, so it's hard to see one givn here, but then I hate seeing cards given for tip tackles when little, o no danger is apparent... Instinctively I'd say, "accident, pick the guy up, tell POC not to be such a oaf, get on with the game" but because of the way the sport has changed now I feel like a red card could, perhaps should, have been shown. I know you don't like the talk of spear tackles in this topic, however I just feel that whole duty of care thing, or responsibility of the tackler, maybe should play out here... Then again, players have in the past had their faces stepped on out of pure accident and the boot owner has not been sent off, so perhaps it's just one of those things..

    Reply
  •  rdump
    rdump

    Yes indeed. Actually you can also gouge if it's not intentional. For example if the opponents' eyes happen to be somewhere between your fingers and the ball. As long as it's not intentional your ok.

    Reply
  •  eatmyrugbyshorts
    eatmyrugbyshorts

    The camera angles don't make this look good however in the last angle shown (0:46 - 0:51 in the video) its clear he's going for the ball. To me it looks like reckless/careless injury causing play that was clearly avoidable - so I reckon he should've been cited. Maybe he would've been found not guilty but a citing sends a message that more care is required in the future.

    Reply
  •  vanadyel
    vanadyel

    Does this mean that I can high-tackle if i didn't intend to?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    "half a second and a few millimetres out from being entirely legal kick" But because it was a few millimetres out and half a second late it was not a legal kick? Therefore it was illegal? Therefore deserved of a penalty? And as a result of an illegal kick to the head, a red card. However seeing as no red card was issued during the game, a subsequent ban should have been issued for at least 1 week.... I totally agree that when you see this incident which I truly believe was accidental, it's hard to conjure up thoughts of a red card and a ban, because as I said, it was accidental, but the laws are there not only to govern a "fair game" but also to protect the players, and fly hacking at a loose/semi-loose ball, and striking someone in the head FIRST, shows a huge lack of restraint from O'Connell. I'd still suggest a ban if only to get players to perhaps think in that split second about what they're doing... I hate to do the whole melodramatic shit but, a win is definitely what everyone is after, but at the cost of another players career through injury etc? I don't think any player feels that the game is that big... Apart from Bakkies...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    @Paul if I recall correctly the BOD incident was a knee to the head? Was it not? Therefore it's irrelevant, as for the Pretorious incident, if I hold my fist out and you run onto it, does that mean I punched you in the face? Cos that's pretty much how the Pretorious incident went down. Now onto Flannery, despite being about half an hour too late, he too was kicking at a ball he was legally allowed to boot. Now no denying POC was legally allowed to put his boot to the ball, however, it was done recklessly, he kicked Kearney's head BEFORE he kicked the ball, or did you miss that part? So in short: unintentional, but reckless... Try reading it out aloud, it might sink in better!

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    @Paul. In reply to your post where you provided some links...are you slightly lacking in your mental abilities? How are either one of those in anyway like POC's kick... Pretorious was charging down the ball (and subsequently stealing it) and BOD was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neither showed any recklessness. Actually this whole thing sort of reminds me of Jerry Flannery's kick on a French player years ago which; wait for it, was down as "reckless rather than deliberate." Read all about it: http://forum.rugbydump.com/showthread.php?6360-Jerry-Flannery-kick-on-Alexis-Palisson&p=13256#post13256

    Reply
  •  frenchie
    frenchie

    Shocking behavior and shocking final decision! Bias decision? Given the Clermont vs Munster game and the importance of the line out we could be tempted to say yes. So you can kick your opponent in the head and get away with nothing? not even a yellow?

    Reply
  •  yannoche
    yannoche

    Like the citing commissionner. :)

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    Well, I don't think it is foul play; which side would you award the penalty to would be the first problem. Your teammate might get upset about it though! Calm down, mate. I'm just winding you up.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    it's clear at 0:44 that the ball is still in the grip of his hand. and for those that think the strike was ok -- he actually strikes Kearney's head FIRST. Kearney does not actually release the ball until he was KTFO. So through either fact pattern, POC arrives at the same sanction: 1. Kearney releases the ball because he was KTFO by POC, and then POC's own follow subsequently makes contact with the ball. because he struck a player first -- PK -- and red card -- against Munster. OR 2. POC wanted the ball to be presented to him by a player who did not immediately release it to him. PK against Leinster for not releasing the ball. PK reversal -- and red card -- for POC taking the law into his own hands.

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    I never implied or inferred anything about citing or a ban. I merely said that kicking a player is foul play. For the BOD example, the operative word in 10.4 d) is 'opponent'. For Pretorious, he puts himself in the line of fire. Looking forward to your next essay.

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    If you've refereed then you'll be familiar with 10.4 d). You can't kick an opponent. Possession or lack thereof is not a factor.

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    What you've described is definite foul play. A citing would be judged on the recklessness of the challenge and, it seems from this incident, intent.

    Reply
  •  alasdairduncan3
    alasdairduncan3

    There looked to be some intent there, however sly, no man is that stupid. Great player and all but should have been punished for that one.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    To me, the hit in the air was a little clumsy -- #15 was going for the ball, but then stopped. Could have been penalized, but I could have just as easily seen that as play on. But I think that was the red herring that distracted Owens and the ARs. Maybe they thought he was knocked out by the hit, and/or the players were yelling about that. But looking at the PRO12 rules on their website, it seems they cannot go to the TMO for foul play. Is that right? http://www.rabodirectpro12.com/statzone/competition_rules.php What a crazy-quilt of rules we have across competitions -- H-Cup has foul play TMO, but Amlin doesn't?

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    Why does possession of the ball have any relevance?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    What a 'Crock of shite' with that outcome... "there was no deliberate intent." - Ok, brilliant, I totally agree with that sentiment... But wait, haven't players in the past been banned for high tackles, spear tackles, tip tackles, etc when apparently there has been "no deliberate intent"... So POC tried to kick the ball and kicks a head and it's careless.... Someone dodges into a tackle and I take their head off by accident and it's "reckless, unintentional" and I still get a ban... Again, I'm not suggesting that there was in any way something darker and nastier to this incident, I think it's clear as day it was an accident. I just think, shouldn't players be discouraged from kicking the ball in perhaps a very risky situation.. I don't want to jump on the "what if" bandwagon, but people, in the past have actually died from kicks to the head (in fights on the streets etc) so wouldn't THIS type of thing be far more important to investigate that a tip tackle where a player goes JUST past the horizontal and the tackler gets banned...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    So are you suggesting that the rugby world pretends that Paul O'Connell is a good player who is never nasty??? I've rarely seen the guy do much to warrant more than a penalty at most.

    Reply
  •  lucius
    lucius

    Even in Mma fights such kicks aren't allowed. Ban ban ban

    Reply
  •  tom
    tom

    This is the problem with comment on an incident like this. You clearly don't know the rules and maybe you haven't ever played the game. D Kearney is NOT CLEARLY IN POSESSION of the ball because (1) he is on the ground and it is illegal for him to be is posession of the ball and (2) it is free play - no ruck formed. He is entitled to place his hand on the ball but not to impede any other player from taking it or playing it. O'Connell makes contact with the ball with his toe to and connects with Kearneys head with his chin. Citing commissioner saw it that way also. None of this would have arisen if a yellow card was given which is all it was. No citing because it wasn't a red card offence. Fellas throwing the knickers off themselves because an injury was received to the head doesn't help. Troll all you like. But before you do, PLEASE educate yourself because you clearly do not know what you're talking about. Paying for a ticket doesn't entitle you to troll or shout down anybody. Actual knowledge of the game does.

    Reply
  •  ronan
    ronan

    bad reffing by owens and touch judge, kearny was hit in the air so should have been a penalty straihgt away, oconnell shouldnt have had the opertunity to boot kearny in the head...

    Reply
  •  elvis15
    elvis15

    Deliberate? Probably not. Dangerous? Definitely yes. I'd say he's luck to have escaped further discipline at this point considering that has to be an area just like tip tackles where even if it isn't intended, you have to think of player safety first and your own team's advantage second. The ball being moved just prior to kicking him doesn't help his case either, as it moves from right beside the head to further away and it should have made him more mindful of the danger. Step over and ruck (I'm sure he knows how to do that as a forward) should be his first instinct, not kick a ball close to a player's head.

    Reply
  •  nemo34
    nemo34

    I don't pretend he hit the head purposedly but it still is dangerous play and would deserve a ban. Unfortunately, he's supposed to lead Munster against Clermon on H-Cup semi-final next week. Therefore we can't have him ban right now. What a joke!

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    Absolute hor$e$h!t to not get cited. Making contact with a player's head, "Outcome" should trump "intent". Kicking at a ball that is still CLEARLY IN POSSESSION of the ball carrier (under his arm and placing it) is a questionable act -- and if the outcome results in a head injury -- should have gotten the book. Now for my troll -- imagine how quickly POC (and all the other Munster loudmouths who don't wear captain's armbands) would have been in the ear of the referee if it happened to his team. At least he did look concerned for the guy.

    Reply
  •  yannoche
    yannoche

    Felt the same. It's like you can't spit, but you can kick.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    Does anyone know how the official citing processes are supposed to balance the intent of the offender vs the actual results? It seems to be a bit strange that BOD got a fairly decent ban for his superficial stamp in the 6N, where as POC is let off with nothing for what was a quite serious, but probably accidental, incident here.

    Reply
  •  vannrugby
    vannrugby

    Of course he's not suspended, as if the Irish Federation could have done such a thing before the H-Cup semi-final. He's no Cudmore or any other non-Irish (non-british) player. He's fair by birth. The commissionner understood well that the very idea of suspending O'Connell would be heretic. It doesn't matter if it's voluntary or not, if it's dangerous or not. There is no world where POC would be suspended for an important match. Good job commissioner.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    Botha is as nasty and as tough as they come. However, no one pretends any different.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    Sort of like those terribly harsh bans handed out to Burger and Botha in the last Lions series right? You guys are so persecuted I'm surprised the UN hasn't stepped in yet.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    So many "tip" and "spear" tackles get bans where they are not malicious and just clumsy, in my opinion PoC has done something here that was extremely dangerous, and let's hope it was accidental, but that doesn't mean you can just say it's fine because he didn't mean it.

    Reply
  •  besthookerintown
    besthookerintown

    Controversial call not to cite, I'm sure some people here will knock banter out of this conversation so!!

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/o-connell-to-escape-sanction-for-kearney-incident-1.1360759 No ban.

    Reply
  •  s_conner
    s_conner

    The ball doesn't look at all like it's there to be kicked, unless you go straight through the player's head first... which is what POC did! I'd position it somewhere between clumsy and malicious... I'll plump for reckless. 2 week ban

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    just for info, it is confirmed by RTE and Rabobank that POC won't receive a ban Everyone will make its own conclusion...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Tough call. As with many I disagree that O'Connell is a 'nasty piece of work.' I'd say even Victor Matfield (who appears to be positively gentlemanly on the field) is "nastier" than O'Connell... And whilst we're on it, if POC is nasty then what is Bakkies Botha??? Anyway, moving on. As I said I don't think POC is your nasty second row type, however that doesn't help me out when it comes to deciding on a punishment for this. I would guess it was clumsy/accidental, however I think it's probably important to make a mountain out of this and punish hard to discourage others from taking a swipe at the ball in a similar situation. Perhaps a bit like spear tackles etc, we're just seeing them ALL being hammered so that there is less risk of injury.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    'Typical of a forward. Forwards have a history of offending in many ways and then putting on an air of feigned innocence when the ref sees it. They play on the edge of the laws, knowing that sometimes they'll get away with it.' Or in short, welcome to the game of rugby. I don't condone what POC did by any stretch, but your little paragraph up there against him is almost like a 'Lords prayer' for 90%+ forwards...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Oh har har -_-

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    Stoopid is as stoopid does.

    Reply
  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    Updated with highlights, which you can view on the second page of this post

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Since when is kicking someone in the head, intentional or not, not illegal?????

    Reply
  •  themull
    themull

    Not too much in it really..of course it looks horrible but its just very clumsy by O'Connell..From what i can tell there was no ruck formed, the player had presented the ball and it was there to be played by both teams..Clumsy by POC but I still don't think that warrants a ban...ban's should be for malicious or illegal play, while this was neither...

    Reply
  •  endao
    endao

    Well, we have seen it before with other high profile players getting let off or having their bans tailored for them.....Martin Johnson anyone?! Unfortunately the arm chair warriors are out in force, POC has all of a sudden become one of the dirtiest players on the planet. He has always been a hard player (not a lot of point having a soft second row) but he has not been dirty as such. Between a rock and a hard place, huge POC fan but even though he was clumsy, I don't see it as malicious. Probably a ban, but a short one. Kearney seems to be ok , so lucky there as well.

    Reply
  •  bradleywicks
    bradleywicks

    Disgusting challenge, I agree with the majority of comments above - it's definitely not his style - but it must be considered that a player of his experience should know better than to attack the ball under these circumstances. Accidental or not, I believe he's looking at a ban. But I don't think Gatlin will write him out of a lions tour just yet.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    More clumsy than malicious, but still very dangerous Quite incredible that the linesman on Owens don't even notice it..... so as there was no sanction on the pitch, a ban should be necessary. but like said before, we'seen that bans are often a political thing... Even more now, with the future lions selections

    Reply
  •  totesmcgoates
    totesmcgoates

    Shades of the Alan Quinlan incident from before the last Lions tour. It will be interesting to see if the citing commity will show any leniency to a potential Lion. Quinners got the book thrown at him after a Heineken Cup game. This was not as bad as that obviously but I wonder will a Rabo commity be more sympathic than a Heineken Cup one due to ties with three of the Home Nations? Or does it all fall under ERC juristiction and therefore won't make a difference?

    Reply
  •  07015678
    07015678

    This should have been a red card. Did the ref and touch judge both miss it? This is far more wreckless than a tip tackle, far more dangerous, far more blatant!

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    What baffles me most is that it happens richt in front of the linesman with no blocked view, yet he only seems to notice the ball getting over the sideline. Not sure it's on purpose but something this stupid deserves a ban anywat. My guess: 4 weeks. Which will be reduced to two since he will plead guilty and will show remorse.

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Don't know the man. But looking at it several times, it's hard to believe this is just clumsiness. Ugly.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    It seems reckless and pretty dangerous and certainly requiring some action. I don't know why I think this, but in my mind O'Connell is a very aggressive and nasty piece of work. Like I said, I don't know why I think this, but my instant reaction on reading the headline was not one of surprise. I also enjoy how RD asks us to guess at the ban length, like even the most informed of pundits has any clue what the citing bodies would award for anything nowadays, never mind when it's the leading candidate for the Lion's captaincy.

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    its a funny one (as in strange) You just can't imagine him doing it deliberately - its not his style at all - and yet it looks so clear cut. One thing - Kearney was already at least winded and groggy when he hit the ground hand. (and then he took that boot to the head!) Moment of complete madness by POC.

    Reply
  •  warhorse
    warhorse

    I think you're reading into it a little too much haha, he's a lock and therefore is unlikely to possess any sort of coordination with his feet!

    Reply

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Paul O'Connell knocks out Dave Kearney with clumsy kick to the head | RugbyDump