Irish call for citing over 'bite'

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The Independent Online

Ireland's coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: "There should be no place in the game for this sort of act. It happened about 10 minutes from the end and Simon drew the referee's attention to it. He saw a bite mark on his arm although he didn't see the incident itself."

O'Sullivan's counterpart, Pierre Berbizier, alleged that Ireland's captain Brian O'Driscoll had stamped on the hooker Fabio Ongaro. Berbizier said: "I agreed with the yellow card given to our player, Ramiro Pez [for playing a man off the ball], but you can't accept that incident of O'Driscoll stamping without a penalty or sanctions."

O'Driscoll said: "Italy were trying to slow our ball down and rucking is part of the game. If you are there on or around the ball, you expect to be rucked off it and I was doing exactly that."

O'Sullivan added: "I don't think it was stamping. Brian drove him back at the ruck and that's a different thing to stamping. The official saw it but didn't see anything wrong with it. But if the citing officer sees something, he has to look at it."

The prospect of losing O'Driscoll for the trip to Paris next Saturday would be too alarming to contemplate, although Ireland's captain did not play well yesterday and his team were hugely disappointing.

"It's true, if we play like that against the French, we will be in trouble," said O'Driscoll. "But I am not over downbeat about it. We managed to grind it out. Six Nations games are not easy. This was a very physical game and Italy's defensive system and line speed was very impressive. We had to think laterally, hence Tommy Bowe's try."

O'Sullivan said: "It was a tough game. Italy played well, got in among us and they had a good game plan. We struggled to get on to the front foot but we were able to wear them down in the second half."

The Irish camp brushed aside suggestions that the English referee David Pearson had blundered in awarding Bowe's 47th-minute score. O'Sullivan said: "The referee had already awarded the try so Tommy stopped playing. He could have rolled on and grounded it."

Berbizier said: "The two tries of the Irish team should have been referred by the referee to the television official and should not have been awarded. This was especially true of the second try and the match was changed by that. The second try was not a score, definitely not a try. We want to play with the same rights as the other team. We cannot play with a handicap. I have respect for referees but they must referee as equal."