John Cooney KO'ed by Nemani Nadolo during Ulster semi-final 1 week ago

John Cooney KO'ed by Nemani Nadolo during Ulster semi-final

"I'm just glad he was able to walk off the pitch."

Ulster were rocked by the loss of John Cooney, early in the second half of their Challenge Cup semi-final against Leicester Tigers.

Ulster were winning 17-6 against Tigers, at Welford Road, when Cooney copped a stiff arm from winger Nemani Nadolo in the head.

Cooney hared towards a bouncing ball after Robert Baloucoune had swatted it back into play, from out on the touchline. He got to the ball first, dipping to get hold of it, when he collided with Nadolo.

The Fijian winger was beaten to the ball, but swung a searching arm for the ball. As Cooney dipped, he was clocked by that Nadolo arm and was left in a heap.

Credit: BT Sport

It was immediately clear that Cooney had been splayed by the arm to the head, and Nadolo raised his arms to indicate it had been an accidental collision.

There were multiple replays, as the scrum-half received medical assistance, but referee Pascal Gauzere deemed the coming together to be a rugby incident and unavoidable.


John Cooney receives medical attention during the European Rugby Challenge Cup match between Leicester Tigers and Ulster Rugby at Welford Road. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Cooney, thankfully, regained his senses after a couple of minutes and was able to make his own way off the pitch, albeit with the medics close by.

Sam Warburton, commentating on BT Sport, remarked who Cooney was fortunate that he was not being stretchered off.

The loss of Ulster's talisman ended up as a huge turning point. Nadolo went on to help set up a Jacob Wiese try, soon after Cooney was helped off, and Tigers went on to out-score Dan McFarland's side 27-7 in the second half.

The game ended 33-24 to Leicester and Ulster's European dream is over for another season.