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Walsh exonerated

Tue, 05 Mar 2013 20:45
Steve-walsh-points-630

I don't know if they'll be citing him or me

Quote-end

There was speculation that referee Steve Walsh was in hot water - again - for pushing Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes out of the way, but it seems that he is not blameworthy.

The incident happened in the second half of the match between the Hurricanes of New Zealand and the Reds of Australia.

The referee was Steve Walsh, a New Zealander from the North Island but now regarded as an Australian referee, was refereeing the Hurricanes of the North Island of New Zealand.

The Hurricanes are trailing 18-12 with just over 20 minutes to play. They are on the attack five metres from the Reds' line when Walsh penalises  the Hurricanes No.8 Brad Shields for going off his feet. This produces a lot of dissent from the Hurricanes and Walsh spun round to march them on 10 metres.

Almost immediately Walsh came face to face with Conrad Smith and pushed him with both arms, going on the mark the 10 metres.

When he got to the place, Walsh said to Smith: "Sorry, mate. I didn't mean to push you. I was trying to get there."

Smith made light of the incident, explaining: "He was off charging to give 10 (metres) for the backchat. I was sort of coming up to chat to him, he ran straight into me."

In fact Smith found it amusing: "I don't know if they'll be citing him or me." It's a bit of a "man bites dog" situation!

"He apologised for that. I know it probably looked bad," Smith said.

SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray, a former Test referee, said: "In this case we have a referee that's starting to run. When you first start to run your head tends to drop ... you then look up and (in this case) he's got Conrad Smith right in his face.

"I think it was pretty obvious they were going to collide so Steve did the natural reaction.

"The other telling point was Steve spoke to Conrad as though they were sitting in a cafe. He apologised (and) said 'sorry mate'."

Bray said the "calm nature" of Walsh's response indicated there was no malice involved.

"I don't think there was anything other than a pure collision. Both of them found themselves in the same place at the same time."

Walsh is no stranger to controversy. His argument with the England fitness coach Dave Reddin cost him a one-match suspension in an incident when he seemed more sinned against than sinning,  his 2005 argument with the Lions wing Shane Horgan earned him a four-match ban and then unbecoming conduct at a referees' conference in Sydney led to his sacking as a New Zealand referee, after which he sought - and obtained - redemption in Australia.

This week  Walsh will referee the Six Nations match between Ireland and France in Dublin.

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