One wrong decision can spoil the enjoyment of an evenly fought contest. The accidental collision of two players in a game of rugby gave rise to just such an injustice. The referee got it wrong at the Ulster vs Saracens game in the Heineken Cup quarter finals, resulting in Jared Payne’s sending off. A more confident referee would have seen the replay, noticed that Payne only took his eye off the ball when it was too late for him to do anything about it, and decided whether to award a yellow card or just a warning. The red card is for dangerous play and implies forethought and intent. Neither of those reasons could be levelled at Jared Payne.
It’s a shame that a great game of rugby that was played heroically by a 14 man Ulster team did not yield the victory that surely would have been theirs with the full team. The crowd tried to bridge the gap with some lusty cheering and chanting, but it was not to be. Two points down with five minutes to play, Ulster went looking for a try or penalty within kicking range. Without a distance kicker they opted for a corner kick and a very good Saracens defence closed out the game victorious.
But don’t let me be the sole arbiter on this matter -vote now.