Saturday’s dramatic West Country derby between Gloucester and Bath is set to be investigated after ugly scenes followed a late penalty try, awarded by referee Tim Wigglesworth, who showed two red cards and five yellows as Bath won the game 18-17.
Bath won at Kingsholm in the Premiership for the first time in eight years, but it came late in the contest as Gloucester, who ended the match with just 11 players, pulled down a driving maul and gave the referee little choice but to award the penalty try below the posts.
What followed was threatening to happen all match, as Tavis Knoyle boiled over and lashed out at Leroy Houston, striking him in the face. Houston retaliated, as did Nick Abendanon and a few others, but order was restored swiftly and Wigglesworth red carded Knoyle for being the instigator.
“What happened at the end with Tavis Knoyle, there is no place for that in the game. He just assaulted one of our players and we had to defend ourselves,” said Bath head coach Mike Ford.
Earlier Gloucester replacement Sila Puafisi was also red carded, that time for an awful looking high tackle on Abendanon. Those were the two red cards, but there were also five yellow cards in total, ranging from professional fouls to high tackles.
“The one person Wigglesworth hasn’t yellow carded today is himself.. that’s the mistake he’s made,” said commentator Austin Healey, reacting to some of the decisions that were viewed as harsh.
It was a scrappy affair and the rugby wasn’t pretty, with things only really hotting up in the last ten minutes. Bath’s penalty try came after a series of attempts at the line, one of which was halted courageously by Jonny May when he threw his body between the tryline and Anthony Perenise.
In the end George Ford’s conversion gave Bath the lead, and while Gloucester had hoped to control the restart, the visitors were awarded a penalty on the half way line for Knoyle’s indiscretion.
“Well the rugby’s been absolutely rubbish but everything else has been fascinating,” added Healey.
Gloucester became only the second team in Premiership history to get two red cards in one match. The first was Bath, although one of those (to Francois Louw) was later rescinded.
Referee Wigglesworth reportedly had a bottle thrown at him as he left the field, just one element of a tumultuous affair that will be investigated by the RFU, while both teams – frustrated by the consistency of the officials – will submit reports.
UPDATE: Tavis Knoyle and Sila Puafisi will appear before a RFU Disciplinary Panel on Wednesday, for striking and committing a dangerous tackle respectively. Nick Abendanon and Paul James have been given post-match Level One citings – the equivalent of a foul play yellow card – for striking Knoyle and a stamp on Shaun Knight respectively. No hearings will be held for these citings.
Below is the penalty try and fight, with official highlights (including all cards) on page two
Official highlights wrap from the match, including the other cards and tries