Wasps boss 'won't crucify' Le Roux for showboating
CHAMPIONS CUP REACTION: Wasps director of rugby Dai Young insisted he had no intention of blaming Willie Le Roux for their European Champions Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster following an extraordinary blunder.
The English Premiership leaders were 8-0 down to Leinster at Dublin's Lansdowne Road when South Africa international Le Roux was sent clear of the home side's defence following a clever piece of play from Australia's Kurtley Beale.
With no Leinster defender near him, Le Roux opted for a flamboyant dive over the line only to lose the ball in mid-air and have what seemed a certain try disallowed for a knock-on.
Leinster, the Irish province who have been champions of Europe three times, scored three first-half tries.
Although Wasps fought back after the break, it was the Celtic League pacesetters who triumphed 32-17 to set up a semi-final against the winners of Sunday's all-French clash between Clermont and Toulon.
Yet the whole course of the match might have been different had left wing Le Roux's extravagant gesture not gone so spectacularly wrong.
"I don’t think any coach is going to sit here and crucify his own players," said Young.
"He apologised to the coaches and the players at half-time. What more is there to say?," the former Wales and British and Irish Lions front row added.
"I’m not saying it was a turning factor. We had 55 minutes to turn it around."
For Leinster, 21-year-old Joey Carbery, playing at fullback in place of injured veteran Ireland international Rob Kearney, had a superb match.
Having proven he can swim when dropped into the deep end when making his Ireland debut at flyhalf against New Zealand last November, Carbery's quick feet lit up Lansdowne Road as he helped create two of Leinster's tries and carried for more than 200 metres in the match.
"He’s very, very brave. He’s not afraid to try things," said Leinster coach Leo Cullen. "We will have a look back at the game and go through it with him. He’s hungry to learn and he wants to get better.
"I’m delighted for him today, it was a good performance; 21 years of age – it has come very quickly but he is definitely a talent."
There was more Irish delight when Munster beat record four-time European champions Toulouse 41-16 in Saturday's other quarterfinal.
Munster, themselves two-time former European champions, will face either title-holders Saracens or Glasgow, who play each other on Sunday, in the semifinals.
At their Thomond Park fortress, Munster outscored French giants Toulouse by four tries to one.
And when Paul Perez's try cut their lead to 24-16, Munster responded by scoring 17 unanswered points.
While Le Roux had a day to forget, it was a more pleasing afternoon for fellow South African Rassie Erasmus, the Munster director of rugby.
"It wasn't perfect, but it is a win against a world-class team, so we are fairly happy," said the former Springbok flanker, thrust into the limelight following the shocking death of Munster coach Anthony Foley on the eve of a Champions Cup group match in Paris in October.
Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir consoled himself with the thought that a career which includes 80 Test caps and the honour of skippering France in their 2011 World Cup final defeat by New Zealand, has also featured one match against Munster at Thomond Park.
"It's an amazing crowd, everyone knows it. It would have been nicer for me to win here, to finish with a better score," Dusautoir said.
"It was something very special to be here and to play against the Munster men," the flank added.