It was all going so well.
Ireland came into today's Rugby World Cup clash with Samoa in need of a bonus point victory in order to clinch a quarter-final spot. It was all going rather swimmingly with three tries helping Joe Schmidt's men to a 26-5 lead until it all went a bit pear-shaped in the 28th minute when Bundee Aki charged at UJ Sueuteni.
The referee appeared in no doubt that it was a dangerous tackle and showed Aki a red card, ruling him out of Ireland's quarter-final New Zealand or South Africa. If you haven't seen the incident, you can judge for yourself below:
29: RED Card!
"There is not enough of a mitigating factor there to bring that down to anything but a red"
Bundee Aki has been sent off for a dangerous tackle.
LIVE now on eir sport 1! #RWC2019 #IREvSAM pic.twitter.com/A32iYnj2x3
— eir Sport (@eirSport) October 12, 2019
While the decision is of course unwelcome, Irish fans are divided as to whether it was merited...
Red card all day. How is Donal Lenihan spouting about mitigating factors 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️shoulder to face end off.
— Conor.mortimer (😷)⚽️ (@Conmort) October 12, 2019
Fair play to the RTÉ pundits. Not a single one of them trying to argue the red card was unfair. There was no malicious intent, but by the rules of the game it's a sending off.
We've got the 4 tries for a bonus point. Now just need to hold on for the win with 14 men. #IREvSAM
— Jim Bliss (@JimBliss23) October 12, 2019
Shame for Bundee, just had a momentarily lapse in concentration. Big question is who is the midfield partnership now. Henshaw & Ringrose again? #IREvSAM
— Owen McIntosh (@owenignite) October 12, 2019
— Conor Dowling (@Donor_Cowling) October 12, 2019
Disappointing and I don't think there is any intent as it looks accidental but player safety has to be the top priority. It might have been yellow given Bundee didn't know too much about it but I don't think we can have too many complaints #IREvSAM
— Conor Barron (@Cbarron15) October 12, 2019
Bundee had to go, ref has been fairly consistent. Tough call for us but we now have a difficult game on our hands #IREvSAM
— Colly M (@phunsiz3) October 12, 2019
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) October 12, 2019
Rugby World Cup protocol means that Aki should have a hearing in a couple of days time but if that doesn't go well our task next week will be all the more difficult.