Tigers furious over 16th man
January 23, 2010
Lee Byrne was forced off in the second-half of the Ospreys' victory © Getty Images
Leicester have lodged an official complaint with ERC chiefs after the Ospreys fielded 16 men for a portion of their 17-12 Heineken Cup defeat at the Liberty Stadium.
The Tigers went out of Europe following the result and Clermont Auvergne's victory over Viadana.
Fullback Lee Byrne returned to the field early from the blood-bin in the second-half and gave his side an extra man as Sonny Parker had not left the pitch, with a Leicester break ended while both were present. Leicester chief executive Peter Wheeler fumed at the oversight, although it is understood that the result cannot be affected under tournament rules.
"During a significant part of the game, the Ospreys had 16 players on the pitch, and he was involved in a break by Ben Youngs being stopped from developing," he said. "We think the interference of the 16th man was significant - you are only entitled to have 15 players on the pitch.
"We think it affected the outcome of the game. The players put their heart and soul into it out there, and they deserve to be treated fairly. There has been a significant mistake that could be said to have had an impact on the game. People who administer the game have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill reacted differently, choosing instead to focus on lifting the spirits of his side.
"I am sure they (Ospreys) didn't do it purposely," he said. "I don't think it had a bearing on the result. We were beaten fair and square. I am a lover of the game, and I am sure it was a mistake by somebody. We are out of the tournament. We have to go back, dust ourselves off and cope with the adversity of losing.
"It was a good contest, but someone has got to lose, and it was us today. Sometimes you get the luck, sometimes you don't. Ospreys are a good side with quality throughout. They've got the personnel to win the tournament, but there are some good teams left and Clermont would probably be my favourites."