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Super Rugby bosses respond to Wallaby's 'factually incorrect' comments

REACTION: Super Rugby bosses have released a statement following Harry Wilson’s comments criticising referee Brendon Pickerill’s handling of teammate Connor Vest’s scary injury.

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Vest spent two nights in a Dunedin hospital after he fractured his neck in a tackle in the Reds’ 30-35 loss to the Highlanders last Friday.

No Highlanders player was cited but the Reds are adamant both tacklers were at fault for the incident, claiming the low man had swept Vest’s legs before Shannon Frizell’s shoulder made contact with his head.

Vest lay prone on the Forsyth Barr Stadium turf but eventually walked off, with the diagnoses after scans revealing the extent of the injury that they’re hopeful does not require surgery.

The Reds had already made three unsuccessful requests for retrospective reviews of dangerous tackles on their players to SANZAAR this season and were set to meet with World Rugby to discuss their issue.

Wilson said the latest incident was “ridiculous” and criticised the referee for his handling of the incident.

“We were very frustrated with the referee trying to rush him off the field,” Wilson said ahead of Saturday’s final-round clash with Fijian Drua.

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“We thought it was pretty disrespectful to the player who just broke his neck being told to get off the field as if he’s trying to waste time.

“He was lying down for quite a while, and they [the medical staff] had him in all the positions. There seemed to be a lot of external pressures to get him off the field and he walked off. You don’t know what extra damage that can do.

“Rugby’s really been big on the last few years about player welfare and for us there wasn’t much player welfare there with no-arms tackle on his legs and a shoulder, with no arms, to the head.

“It’s not ideal. Vesty broke his neck … that’s pretty ridiculous.”

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However, Super Rugby bosses called Wilson’s comments “factually incorrect” and asked for more respect towards match officials.

The statement said: “Super Rugby Pacific has concluded a review of the incident involving an injury to Connor Vest of the Reds during the weekend’s match between the Highlanders and Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Vest was injured during a tackle in the 28th minute of the match.

“The review has found that at no stage did the match referee, Brendon Pickerill, attempt to hurry the review of the injury or the removal of the player from the field.

“The comments attributed to Harry Wilson of the Reds in the media are factually incorrect and whilst they may have been well intending in support of a teammate, he has been issued with a reminder that care must be taken with public comments not to impair the public confidence in the integrity of match officials.

“Super Rugby Pacific Match Officials will always provide sufficient time for the treatment of injuries in consultation with team and matchday medical staff to ensure that the appropriate level of care is able to be provided on any occasion. In regards to this incident, at no time was the referee made aware of the seriousness of the players injury or the need for more time or precautions.

“The incident was also reviewed post match by the independent Citing Commissioner who found no foul play had occurred by the tacklers.

“The tournament encourages players and coaches to have strong opinions however respect for match officials is a sacrosanct core value of the game and one which we take an unapologetic stance to protect.”

Additional reporting: AAP

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