Dominic Ryan was lucky to escape serious injury after a stray boot from Georgia’s Viktor Kolelishvili caught the Ireland flanker in the eye.
The Leinster back-row was making his debut for the Ireland national team and played the full 80 minutes of the 49-7 victory over the Georgians at the Aviva Stadium.
Kolelishvili was attempting to step over a ruck to diffuse a confrontation between Irish hooker Richardt Strauss and Georgian prop David Kubriashvili, who had charged in to the side of the ruck in an effort to take out the South African-born Strauss.
Whether he knew what he was doing or not, Kolelishvili’s boot found the face of the defenceless Ryan – who was pinned down at the bottom of the ruck.
Despite claims from both Ryan and scrum-half Eoin Reddan to take a look at the incident, referee JP Doyle elected not to and Kolelishvili escaped any punishment during the match.
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Irish head coach Joe Schmidt refused to blame Doyle for not taking a second look at the incident, and said they he understood that Dublin-born Doyle was simply following protocol.
"I think the protocol is that if there is suspected foul play the TMO can intervene, he can let the referee know and then the referee can review it," said Schmidt after the victory.
"Obviously the incident had passed, and I think by the time Eoin spoke to the referee the game had moved on a little bit, and he heard nothing from the TMO.
"So according to the protocol I think he acted correctly. There's not really much else that JP Doyle could have done. That's just the way it works.
"It's something that I know is being talked about a fair bit: they may change those protocols at some stage. Currently his [Doyle's] hands were tied a little bit: he didn't see it himself personally, Luke Pearce on the touchline didn't see it.
"Therefore if there was an incident then that has to be dealt with by the TMO pretty much in close proximity in time, otherwise once the game goes on it's pretty hard to go a long way back.
"It didn't look great at the end of it, but I didn't see how it occurred. Rugby is a game where things can happen. It's one of those things we'll have a look at and I don't think we'll be the only ones.
"But for me I'm pretty keen just to move on from it and leave it on the pitch."
Despite the near miss with a potentially life-changing injury, Ryan was able to enjoy the rest of his debut as Ireland ran in six tries to record a comfortable victory despite a nervy first half.
Dave Kilcoyne finally got the home side over the whitewash shortly after the break, before Strauss, Simon Zebo, Stuart Olding and a double from Felix Jones completed the comprehensive victory, with Georgia’s Giorgi Nemsadze scoring a consolation for the visitors.Reuse content