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Rolland defends Warburton red card call
ESPNscrum Staff
November 14, 2011
Referee Alain Rolland shows a red card to Sam Warburton, Wales v France, Rugby World Cup semi-final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 15, 2011
Rolland shows Wales captain Sam Warburton a red card during their Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to France © Getty Images
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Referee Alain Rolland insists he has no regrets about his decision to send off Wales captain Sam Warburton during last month's Rugby World Cup semi-final clash with France.

Rolland caused outrage in Wales after issuing Warburton with a straight red card for a spear tackle on Vincent Clerc just 18 minutes into France's narrow 9-8 victory at Eden Park. The Irish referee was heavily criticised for the decision, though International Rugby Board directives on spear tackling indicated he was within his rights to dismiss Warburton.

And he insists he would take exactly the same course of action if placed in a similar position in the future. "If I had to do it all over again I would do the same thing," he told the Western Mail. "I don't think it needs to be vindicated full stop. The important part for referees, no matter what sport it is, is to take the emotion out of it.

"We can only officiate on the action itself and what he did merited what happened next because it was dangerous. Did he mean to do it? Was it intentional or unintentional? We don't officiate on intention, we officiate on the action itself. Unfortunately, what had happened gave me no option but to do what I did.

"Any time you make a decision, 50% of the people think it is a great call and 50% of the people say 'How did he come to that decision?'. That is just the way it is."

He added: "The thing you have to remember is that straight after the game there was huge emotion everywhere, which is understandable. But in time, maybe in 10 or 15 years, it might calm itself down."

Rolland has praised Warburton for admitting earlier this month that he deserved to be sent off. "To be fair to Sam, I think it is a true measure of the man he is," he said. "I don't think he had to come out to say anything and I didn't really care one way or the other because what happened, happened.

"I think for the game in general it was a very good comment by Sam because parents looking on would be happy to see he came out and said what he said, which might make the game a bit safer."

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