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WATCH: England scrum half escapes with penalty for 'push' to the face

England scrum half Leanne Infante avoided proper sanction on Saturday after pushing Michelle Claffey in the face, with the infringement being ruled a penalty to Ireland.

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

14:17 24 Apr 2022



WATCH: England scrum half esca...
Rugby

WATCH: England scrum half escapes with penalty for 'push' to the face

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

14:17 24 Apr 2022

England scrum half Leanne Infante avoided proper sanction on Saturday after pushing Michelle Claffey in the face, with the infringement being ruled a penalty to Ireland.

Ireland came into their toughest match of the TikTok Six Nations with seven enforced changes to their starting XV, as Greg McWilliams lost seven players to the Irish Sevens side, while also losing Sam Monaghan to an injury.

It was always going to be a tough ask for them to travel to Welford Road and beat the largely professional English side. However, in spite of the challenge, Ireland held England to 10 points in the first half.

Ireland's massive defensive effort was only half of the story in the first half though. Just five minutes before half time, England scrum half had a penalty reversed against her as she was shown to 'push' Ireland's Claffey in the face.

The incident was only referred to the TMO after Ireland's Neve Jones had rushed in to retaliate to what looked like a punch, and initially the referee looked ready to sanction Jones only.

However, after repeated viewing, eventually the TMO found the angle that most saw live, which showed the English scrum half clearly strike the Irish replacement centre in the face.

In spite if clear evidence, though, the sanction for the incident, which was deemed a 'push without force' was only a reversal of the penalty that England were given advantage for.

Speaking in the Virgin Media studio at half time, former Ireland internationals Jenny Murphy and Fiona Hayes felt that Infante was very lucky to have remained on the pitch.

"We talked about the nitty gritty and slowing things down," Hayes said. "Claffey didn't want to give her the ball back there. She got a bit feisty.

"I think she got away with one. That is definitely contact to the head. She got away with one."

The floodgates opened for England in the second half. The scored 59 unanswered points in the second 40 minutes, with tries to Marlie Packer, Lark Davies, Hannah Botterman, and two each for Lydia Thompson, Poppy Cleall and Ellie Kildunne in the second half.

However, the talking points for Ireland in the second half was that they received two cards, for incidents that could be seen as less severe than a strike of any kind with intent to the face.

Dorothy Wall was yellow carded in the 45th minute for a head-on-head collision which the referee admitted was not with force or intent.

Sene Naoupu was shown red with just over 13 minutes left to play for a different challenge. The video evidence showed that it was head on head contact again, and the referee suggested that it was with 'more force' than Wall's earlier tackle.

The two cards would ultimately make no major impact to the final scoreline, as England were already in firm control. The final score saw England secure a massive 69-0 victory over the heavily depleted Irish side.

Ireland will now hope to get only their second win of the Six Nations when they host Scotland in Ravenhill next weekend.

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