London Irish head coach Booth hopes television evidence will nail Brive thugBy Alan Manicom
December 16, 2009
Toby Booth is confident that Brive will receive further punishment for their ‘thuggery’ in the closing stages of London Irish’s club-record Heineken Cup away win in France.
And by the time Brive visit London Irish at Madejski Stadium on Saturday, French lock Arnaud Mela could be facing a third ban for foul play in two years.
The Exiles boss was delighted with a five-try, bonus-point 36-3 victory that took his side to the top of Pool 6, but alleged that the player who punched Danie Coetzee at a scrum in the 67th minute had gone unpunished.
Referee George Clancy only saw enough to send off Mela’s team-mate Guillaume Ribes for kicking out at Coetzee.
But Booth said: “It was not the hooker who threw the punch but the second row and TV will vindicate that. I am sure the people who should get punished will be.
“There is no place in this game for thuggery and I’m really pleased that with TV, people who cross the line get caught.
“There is a difference between physical, and dirty and cheating.”
Mela, 29, received a three-week ban for punching Steve Borthwick in a game between Bath and Albi two years ago and a four-week suspension in January for striking Paul Emerick in a Challenge Cup game against Overmach Parma.
Brive, who cannot now qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, said that Ribes had been provoked by Coetzee, who was later sent to the sin-bin following a brawl with the home team’s starting hooker, Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux.
“Our player says the hooker spat blood at him so he put his foot up,” said Brive's chief executive, Simon Gillham. “Our man is very upset. We’ll have to look at the video.”
Having beaten Toulouse the previous week, despite an outbreak of swine flu, Brive fielded a below-strength team and paid the price.
Gillham, though, insists his club will not lie down in Reading on Saturday, adding: “I said to the lads that we weren’t respecting the Heineken Cup by shipping 30 points at home.
“Next Saturday we’re going to go with the strongest team we have.”
With Andy Goode recovering from an operation on Monday to remove his appendix and ex-London Irish player Riki Flutey not expected to return from a shoulder injury until December 30, however, the Exiles will fancy another bonus-point win.
A delighted Booth said: “This was about London Irish showing people what London Irish are about. We wanted to show resilience. The biggest plus was that we showed what we stood for.”
And as he looked forward to Saturday, he added: “We know what physicality we are going to get because we have seen it.”