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“It Was Black And White” – Conor Murray On Controversial Beirne Penalty Call

Conor Murray Tadhg Beirne

There was no shortage of controversial moments from Munster’s come-from-behind Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday. 

Johann van Graan’s side emerged 13-17 winners to secure a tie with Saracens in the last four with two tries from Keith Earls proving the difference against Richard Cockerill’s side.

Both of Munster’s tries had some interesting moments.

For the first one, Earls quick-tapped a penalty and crossed the try line as the Edinburgh players failed to react in time to stop the winger.

However, there were complaints from Edinburgh players for Conor Murray’s challenge on Henry Pyrgos where he wrestled him to the ground, after the Edinburgh scrum-half gave away the penalty in the first place for slapping the ball out of Murray’s hands.

Many believe that the penalty decision should have been reversed due to Murray’s reaction but Earls’ try stood, nonetheless.

“If we’re being honest, yeah I was [relieved],” Murray said.

Conor Murray Tadhg Beirne

“I think it was just a little bit of frustration on my part. I was trying to play the ball off the scrum and he [Pyrgos] just slapped it down cynically, no other intention really than to infringe. I just saw red for a little second and I actually hurt myself more than I hurt him. I hit my head off the ground a little bit. Maybe got a little bit lucky there.

“If that was reversed, people talk about it now, but I’m sure we would have found another way to score a try there. Obviously, it would have been frustrating from my point of view to let the team down and maybe got a little bit lucky there, but I’ll try not to do that too much.”

Conor Murray Tadhg Beirne

Munster’s second try came from a lineout move which ultimately occurred as a result of a penalty to Munster for Pierre Schoeman’s off-the-ball challenge on Tadhg Beirne.

The Munster second-row has been accused of feigning injury or ‘milking’ the incident in order to win a penalty from the referee but Murray is certain that the correct decision was made.

“The first time I saw it was a replay, in slow motion, and it didn’t look like it was too bad. It wasn’t a horrendous challenge by any stretch of the imagination. I watched it in real time and watched it fully, and it was a penalty. It was black and white. Schoeman eyes him up and someone told me it was an elbow flick a while ago, but it wasn’t, it was a full arm or shoulder and Schoeman is a big loosehead prop.

Conor Murray Tadhg Beirne

“My answer is you’d have to ask Tadhg how badly he was hurt, I didn’t really care, because we got the penalty reversed and we went down and eventually scored a try. There’s a lot being made about how big a deal Tadhg made about it, but it was a penalty. By the letter of the law, it was a penalty. Maybe you could say the ref wouldn’t have gone back if Tadhg hadn’t stayed down and drew attention to it. Thankfully he did see it and he did reverse it.

“I’d stand strongly by it, it is a penalty. He eyes him up and checks his run on purpose. Lucky for us as Van der Walt would have slotted that from 40 metres, he doesn’t miss too many kicks. Six points down, we would have stayed on task and try to win the game, but it would have made it that bit harder. We got a little bit of a break there.”


Today, PINERGY, the official energy partner to Munster Rugby, teamed up with its brand ambassador Conor Murray to announce that Munster Rugby’s home stadiums, Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, will now be powered with electricity from fully renewable energy sources.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter