Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has revealed that Bundee Aki is “gutted” after being sent off for a high tackle on Billy Vunipola.
While Aki’s red card made no difference to the result as Ireland secured a comfortable 14-point victory over England, the Connacht centre was visibly worried about Vunipola directly after the incident.
Farrell was speaking to RugbyPass after the match and revealed that the Ireland centre made sure that Vunipola was okay after the match ended.
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“It’s tough, isn’t it? The rules are the rules but at the same time, it is very tough,” Farrell said.
“I’ll look at it again but Billy seemed to be on a downward motion certainly with his head, but if there is any contact they are stringent with that at this moment of time.
“He’s gutted, Bundee. He is good mates with Billy as well. He is in the tunnel making sure they are still friends which they definitely are.”
Vunipola came off as a result of the tackle and did not return to the field of play, having looked shaken from the collision with Aki.
While the England number eight had a low body position going into the tackle, referee Mathieu Raynal deemed that the Ireland centre had not done enough to avoid making contact with Vunipola’s head.
Aki was shown a red card for another high tackle on Samoa’s Ulupano Seuteni during the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and was banned for three matches on that occasion.
The Connacht man will likely get a ban of a similar length for his high shot on Vunipola, which will rule him out of his province’s European Challenge Cup knock out fixture against Leicester Tigers in two weeks’ time.