‘Orange card’? Lions, Hurricanes coaches disagree over Henderson punishment in thrilling draw
Henderson sinbinning for tackle on Barrett in second half proves to be turning point in 31-31 draw between British & Irish Lions and Wellington Hurricanes
Wellington Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd thought opposing lock Iain Henderson’s tackle on Jordie Barrett deserved an “orange” card, while his British & Irish Lions counterpart Warren Gatland reckoned it warranted just a penalty.
Both, however, agreed the incident when Henderson upended Barrett in a midfield ruck in the 65th minute was the major talking point of their 31-31 draw on Tuesday.
The Hurricanes were trailing 31-17 at the time and scored tries through Wes Goosen and Vaea Fifita, both of which Barrett converted, to lock the score up while Henderson was off the field.
“I was a bit horrified when I was listening to the mic and he [referee Romain Poite] was talking about nothing,” Boyd said. “Clearly he [Barrett] was tipped beyond the horizontal and the starting point for that is yellow.
“The penalty around that I understand is where you land, it has nothing to do with intent.
“It was probably an orange in my mind so somewhere between a yellow and a red.”
Gatland, who did not address the fact his side scored eight points while Hurricanes scrum half Te Toiroa-Tahuriorangi was sinbinned in the second half, had a different interpretation.
“Disappointed we ended up with a yellow card,” he said. “The referee was initially going to give it as a penalty but he made the decision to look at other angles and changed his decision to a yellow card.
“It was the big moment of the game. It was going to be a penalty to us and we had all the territory and possession so it was a massive swing in the game.”
With Henderson off the field, the home side came roaring back and after Goosen and Fifita’s tries, with the 38,690-strong crowd urging the 2016 Super Rugby champions on, they pressed hard to try to score the winning try.
The Lions, however, managed to hold them out and had the opportunity to win the game only for fly half Dan Biggar to miss his drop goal attempt.
“They’re gutted. They’re disappointed,” Gatland said of his players. “They know they let an opportunity slip to win the match and ended with a draw. They’re disappointed in that.”
Boyd, while also frustrated with the result, said he felt his team had played the better rugby.
“If you were a complete neutral – and I am a neutral,” he said with a grin, “it was four tries to three and two of their tries were off an intercept and a dropped high ball.
“When I reflect on the game the Hurricanes had the better of the game, but neither side will be happy with the draw.”