Sat 12 Oct 2019 | 06:48

Samoa pleads red-carded Aki's case

Samoa pleads red-carded Aki's case
Sat 12 Oct 2019 | 06:48
Samoa pleads red-carded Aki's case
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WORLD CUP REACTION: Samoa appealed to the judiciary not to suspend Ireland centre Bundee Aki.

The midfielder was sent off for a dangerous tackle in their final pool match on Saturday.

Ireland, despite being down to 14 men for more than 50 minutes, scored seven tries in a 47-5 bonus-point victory in Fukuoka which confirmed their place in the quarterfinals.

But as Ireland head towards their first knock-out match, either against New Zealand or South Africa, Aki’s involvement is in doubt after he was handed the seventh red card of the tournament.

A three-week suspension has been the standard punishment so far at the World Cup, where referees are cracking down on high tackles in an attempt to minimise concussions.

Aki, who is of Samoan descent, was sent off in the 28th minute for a shoulder into the face of Samoa flyhalf Ulupano Seuteni. But the Samoans believe the high shot was accidental.

“I’ve known Bundee for a long time and know what a great man he is, he’s got a great character and he doesn’t go out there to do that to anybody,” Samoa coach Steve Jackson said, adding it appeared to be “the toss of a coin” how referees ruled on head blows at the World Cup.

“Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and hopefully he gets to continue on in this tournament.

“We’ll do everything we possibly can from a Samoan perspective to make sure he gets on that field next week.”

‘No hard feelings’

Samoa captain Jack Lam, who spent a long time talking to Aki at the end of the match, said there were “no hard feelings and I hope it doesn’t get ruined by him missing a couple of games”.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, however, seemed resigned to losing his star centre.

“Any further participation in the tournament is now at risk… we know there is a very hard line,” Schmidt said.

“It’s a really tough situation. I think Bundee is upright, you can see both his hands behind the shoulder blades of the player who’s just starting to come up and it’s all split-second stuff.

“We live in hope and we’ll see what the judiciary decide, but once it’s a red card you sense a loss of control over what happens next no matter what you try to present.”

Schmidt was, however, pleased with Ireland’s performance coming off the back of a loss to Japan and an inconclusive victory over Russia.

“We were tactically relatively solid once we lost Bundee because it would have been hard to play with a huge amount of width.

“In the second half, it probably wasn’t great to watch but it was comforting to know we were in the right part of the pitch and we went to a couple of strong points for us with the maul and the scrum and carried close.

“With a man down, that’s the strong suit you’re going to play.”

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Samoa Pleads Red-carded Aki's Case - Ireland | Rugby365