"Very hard to see any other colour but red" - Referee disagrees with Brian O'Driscoll on crucial call
"There's no doubt, he's very lucky. Another referee in the same position could easily have given a red card."
There was a big moment of controversy in the middle of the second half, between Connacht and Leinster, and Brian O'Driscoll was not the only one feeling Jamison Gibson Park was fortunate not to be sent off.
After 54 minutes of Leinster's Champions Cup Last 16 first leg against Connacht, at The Sportsground, there was a collision between Gibson Park and Kieran Marmion, his opposite scrumhalf.
Marmion was on a sniping run, as he tried to rally his side from their trailing position of 23-14, when he was scragged from Ed Byrne. It saw him dip slightly, but not daramatically.
Gibson Park braced for impact with his right shoulder out. Marmion careened into it and was left with a broken nose.
Referee Kieran Dixon had his attention brought to the incident by the Television Match Official and, as he jogged towards a screen to watch replays and the real-time impact, O'Driscoll [on commentary duty for BT Sport] commented:
"It's very hard to see any other colour but red [for Gibson Park."
"He's very lucky. There's no doubt."
Do you agree with Karl Dickson's decision to show Jamison Gibson-Park a yellow card for this challenge?
Should the Leinster scrum-half have been sent off?#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/f4OebNmX6H
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 8, 2022
Why Jamison Gibson Park avoided a red card
Although referee Karl Dickson immediately stated there was 'foul play', it became apparent that he was talking himself into just flashing a yellow card.
The 'element of danger is quite high', Dickson remarked, and he felt Jamison Gibson Park was stationary and braced himself, rather than stepping forward.
The TMO and Dickson assistants were suggesting further looks at footage - almost as if they were nudging him from yellow to red - but Dickson was not convinced it was a clear red. Approaching Gibson Park, he said:
"It is high with direct high contact to the head, but you accept the impact... there is a high level of danger... yellow card."
O'Driscoll and Ben Kay, the former England international, both felt Gibson Park had been fortunate, but Connacht had to get on with it. They did make the man advantage count, though, as Leva Fifita crashed over for a try that was converted by Jack Carty, making it 23-21.
Connacht did go close to nudging in front but were held up just short of the Leinster tryline. All punched out, it was Leinster that got the last score of the game, thanks to a Ross Byrne penalty.
Heading into the second leg, at Aviva Stadium next Friday, Leinster had the win, and a five-point over their interprovincial rivals.