Gregor Townsend has dismissed claims that his Glasgow side deliberately set out to injure Munster’s Conor Murray during last weekend’s European Champions Cup match at Scotstoun.
Murray, the leading candidate for the Lions’ Test jersey, felt he was unfairly targeted by Glasgow tacklers, especially in the act of kicking the ball. Tacklers, he complained, deliberately aimed their bodies at his standing foot as he kicked.
“I’m properly p****d off about that,” said the Irish scrum-half. “I don’t see any benefit in charging down someone’s standing leg, I only see it as a danger or as a potential to get injured.
“I don’t think it’s a good tactic. They [Glasgow] did it to us at Thomond Park, they got our scrum-half Te [Aihe Toma] with it in the league game and they almost got me a couple of times.”
We could take Murray’s complaint more seriously if he hadn’t aimed his ire at Josh Strauss after the flanker made a perfectly fair and legal challenge on the scrum-half in the act of kicking the ball.
When asked about the incident Townsend came armed with a photograph. The ball is in flight, but just inches from Murray’s foot, and the big South African already has his hands on the No 9. It suggests that Murray had already decided what he was going to moan about and just chose the wrong incident with which to launch his tirade.
“There is no rule that says you can’t tackle someone when they’re about to kick the ball,” Townsend pointed out. “The replay was shown and the referee said it was fine.
“Conor Murray is an excellent player, possibly the best nine in the game right now. He is a really good kicker and we have to work hard against teams who kick a lot to put them under pressure.
“Who knows why they came out with this midweek? I know they were dealing with the EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) investigation of concussion (to Murray himself) and there is a Scotland/Ireland game in a few weeks’ time. Maybe that’s why they want to talk about it?”