Harlequins win against Bath stands despite RFU apology as Glasgow Warriors opponents involved in drama

Sin-binned lock Herbst returned to pitch early in midst of Bath comeback

The Rugby Football Union has upheld Harlequins’ narrow win over Bath despite apologising for an officiating error that saw Quins lock Irne Herbst return to the field early after a yellow card.

Herbst was sent to the sin bin in the 63rd minute of a Premiership clash that ended 40-36 in Quins’ favour, but came back on after only seven minutes. With Bath in the midst of a rousing comeback, which saw them score 33 unanswered points, the South African made at least one important tackle during the time he should have been out of action.

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Bath coach Johann van Graan complained to the referee after the match but, after assessing the issue, the RFU’s professional game match officials team declined to take any further action over the mistake. A statement read: “The RFU Professional Game Match Officials Team (PGMOT) acknowledge and apologise for an error during the Gallagher Premiership match between Harlequins v Bath where a yellow card sanction resulted in Irne Herbst returning to the pitch approximately three minutes too soon. We would like to apologise to both teams for this mistake. As is the usual process the PGMOT will review all games to ensure continued improvement and learnings. The result of the match remains final.”

Irne Herbst of Harlequins was only sin-binned for seven minutes.Irne Herbst of Harlequins was only sin-binned for seven minutes.
Irne Herbst of Harlequins was only sin-binned for seven minutes.

Speaking after the match Van Graan touched on his side’s dissatisfaction, while accepting there was no axe to grind with the man in the middle, Anthony Woodthorpe. “I flagged it with the referee after the game. There’s not a lot that he can do, on the pitch he wasn’t even aware of it. We went through our team manager and we made the fourth official aware. On a yellow card, you’re supposed to be off for 10 minutes, not seven.”

Scotland stand-off Finn Russell played the match for Bath, while Harlequins got themselves a valuable victory ahead of the Investec Champions Cup match against Glasgow Warriors on Friday night.

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