'issue with the law': Worcester coach calls for clarity
REACTION: Worcester Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas believes there is “an issue with the law” after Scotland prop Rory Sutherland was sent off in his team 22-19 Premiership defeat at Bath.
Sutherland could be a doubt for the Six Nations opener against England on February 5 following his dismissal in the second minute of a comeback appearance following six weeks out injured.
The British and Irish Lion was dismissed by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys for a head-on-head challenge that forced Bath prop Will Stuart off the pitch. He will now face a disciplinary hearing.
Thomas said: “By the letter of the law it’s a red card and you can’t argue with it, but I think there is an issue with the law.
“I retired from rugby because of head knocks, so I am all about ensuring player safety.
“But it is an accidental head-on-head collision, and the footwork used by Stuart has to be a mitigating factor.
“Something is wrong with the game if we are going to have a sending-off for that.
“I am bitterly disappointed to go down to 14 players and lose. I thought we were the better team with 14, and we had to be tactically smart.
“The players showed huge, huge character and I am gutted for them because we created opportunities. It was an unbelievable effort.”
For Bath, it was their first win in any competition this season at the 13th attempt, having last tasted victory more than six months ago.
Flyhalf Orlando Bailey’s penalty 10 minutes from time broke their Premiership duck this term, while he also added two conversions as Bath posted tries by wing Semesa Rokoduguni, centre Max Ojomoh and fullback Tom De Glanville.
But Worcester, without a win from 17 previous visits to the Recreation Ground, matched them try for try as full-back Jamie Shillcock, lock Joe Batley and scrum-half Gareth Simpson touched down, with flyhalf Fin Smith kicking two conversions.
Bath rugby director Stuart Hooper said: “The result is everything.
“You have to understand where we have been from a results point of view, and also availability, and getting the win today was massive for us and our supporters.
“Some of the players, the way they responded was outstanding. It was miles away from a perfect performance, but there were [good] elements to it with some of the physicality we showed.
“It’s huge. In professional sport, you always talk about what you could and should have done, and what you would have done better, but I genuinely believe that’s for tomorrow.
“The players put so much in during the week to have winning moments in the games, and you have to recognise that and enjoy it.
“It’s not about spraying champagne in the changing room or anything of that magnitude, but it is about being able to look each other in the eye and smile and be proud of what you have done.
“In anything you do, when you are not getting the results or those moments of joy, it is tough.”