Leicester centre Anthony Allen was “dazed but OK” after being carried off during their Aviva Premiership win over great rivals Bath at Welford Road.
Allen, 26, twice capped by England, was left unconscious on the ground for several minutes after a high tackle from Bath’s giant centre Matt Banahan, one of three players to be sent off by referee Tim Wigglesworth in five minutes of mayhem.
First to go was Bath flanker Francois Louw in the 60th minute for use of the elbow. Banahan followed after the tackle on Allen, as did Leicester flanker Brett Deacon for retaliation.
Bath also saw No.8 Simon Taylor and stand-off Stephen Donald sin-binned in the 50th and 67th minutes respectively, indiscipline which helped Leicester fight back from 12-6 down at the end of the third quarter to win 17-12.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Anthony is sat up in the changing room, he is dazed but he will be OK.”
Bath head coach Toby Booth said the game was “one of the most surreal experiences” of his career.
He added: “I am a bit shell-shocked. When you come to Welford Road you have to be extremely competitive and we spoke about that a lot this week.
“Self-control is part of a professional player’s make-up. Some of the issues we saw out there were self-control issues, others were consistency issues.
“I am not going to stand here and say it should not have been [red card]. I did not see Francois’ incident, it was off camera.
“Allen ducked into a tackle from Banners and he has caught him high. We are bitterly disappointed because we thought we had an opportunity today.”
Cockerill had some sympathy for all three players who were sent off.
He said: “Banahan is a big man, he’s not a dirty player. He has gone in and hit him high. The laws are a bit mad. If Louw has dropped an elbow on someone is it a red? Probably not. It might be a yellow but that’s the world we live in.
“Banahan hits a bloke and knocks him unconscious but it looks a lot worse than it is. Brett Deacon retaliates and he is off. If you go back to the 1990s when this side was very aggressive we would have had three blokes a side. I don’t necessarily agree with how it’s refereed but that’s the way it is.”
Before the dismissals Bath were leading 12-6 thanks to tries by Donald and Tom Biggs, which Donald converted.
Afterwards Leicester scored a try through Adam Thompstone and fly-half George Ford added two more penalties to the two he kicked at the start of the second half.
Leicester’s win puts them back on track for the play-offs after last week’s defeat at Wasps, while Bath will be kicking themselves for their indiscipline having beaten league leaders Harlequins in their previous game.
n Former Scotland stand-off Gordon Ross kicked London Welsh to a 15-9 victory over basement rivals London Irish at the Kassam Stadium.
However the game was ruined as a contest by the early dismissal of No.8 Chris Hala’ufia which resulted in the visitors having to play 70 minutes with 14 men.
The match was a dreadful spectacle with neither side having any attacking invention to break down the opposition’s defence and it was left to Ross to secure victory for his side with five penalty goals.
London Welsh took a fifth minute lead when Ross kicked his first penalty after Irish were penalised for dragging down a lineout drive.
Almost immediately, Welsh suffered a big blow when influential centre Hudson Tonga’uiha left the field with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury.
Irish had their first opportunity for points but Ian Humphreys was narrowly short with his 45-metre penalty attempt.
The visitors then suffered a huge setback when Hala’ufia was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Welsh replacement Seb Jewell. The referee JP Doyle sought the advice of his touch judge before issuing a red card.
Hala’ufia expressed his regret by immediately walking over to the uninjured Jewell to shake his hand but the damage was already done.
The resulting penalty was kicked by Ross.
n England will play Australia, Argentina and New Zealand in the 2013 November international series at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union has announced.
England, who beat the All Blacks yesterday, will face Australia on 2 November, Argentina one week later and New Zealand once more on 16 November.