Referee talked into Simon Zebo red card after baffling explanation
How Mike Lowry was able to immediately bounce back up and play on was a feat in itself.
Simon Zebo got off to a rip-roaring start on his return to Munster, but the past few months have been tough.
Called into the Ireland squad for the November internationals, Zebo did not get that run-out in the green jersey again after over four years away from the Test stage. He then travelled to South Africa with his province and was caught up in the Covid travel restrictions and the positive cases that swept through the squad.
Finally, when he was ready to go again, Covid cancellations scuppered many of the festive fixtures. The Cork native would have been itching to make up for lost time when he lined out on the left wing against Ulster.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Munster scrumhalf Craig Casey put up a box-kick that both Zebo and Jack Crowley hared after. Both players arrived just as Lowry was landing, after fielding the ball. Even live, it looked as though Lowry had shipped a big blow, even though the fullback sprung up and played on.
Replays did not look good though, and it was Zebo connecting with the shoulder to the head of Lowry that sealed his fate, even if referee Mike Adamson did make an initially baffling decision.
Simon Zebo had no complaints when he got the red card, and you can see why
How Lowry bounced straight up, I'll never know pic.twitter.com/g9TmI34Q16
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) January 8, 2022
TMO talks referee into Simon Zebo red card
After watching four replays of the incident, Adamson seemed to talk himself into just sending Zebo to the sin bin. In discussion with Television Match Official Brian MacNeice, Adamson reasoned:
"Just confirming, we do have shoulder contact to the head. And we are seeing that as foul play because the red player is upright - he's not bent at the hips.
"We'll just go into the level of danger. He's coming from distance. I'm seeing it as a high degree, but there is another tackler involved. It is quite a dynamic situation. The player has caught it. He's coming down. So I'm going to mitigate it as a yellow card. Are we seeing that? Are we seeing it as a mitigation?"
The TMO appeared convinced that Zebo's tackle was reckless and encouraged Adamson to look at more replays until he eventually changed his mind. Adamson then said there was no mitigation, after seeing another replay, and pointed out that Zebo should be tackling lower.
Here's the full clip of that Zebo red card pic.twitter.com/6gtS2XPBif
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 8, 2022
"It's a horror show for him," reflected former Munster and Ireland captain Donal Lenihan on RTE. "He accepted it as soon as he heard the referee's decision."
Over on Premier Sports, Alan Quinlan, another former Munster player, said, "By the letter of the law, it's a red and he should go."
Out came the red card and Zebo took no issue with it. His frustrating few months continued.