Fans amazed as Scotland star escapes citing for hit on Ian Botham’s grandson
Scotland international Dave Cherry will not be punished for an ill-conceived clear-out that resulted in Cardiff back-rower James Botham being stretchered off the field and hospitalised on Saturday.
Play was paused for a considerable period at the DAM Health Stadium while Botham—the grandson of Englandcricket legend Ian —received treatment in the second half of his side's 34-10 defeat in the Scottish capital.
Edinburgh hooker Cherry charged into a ruck around the 56-minute mark, instantly making head-to-head contact with Botham, who was stood static over the collision area with his head exposed.
Replays showed Cherry appeared to make little effort to bind onto either a team-mate or opponent, while there are also arguments to suggest he entered the ruck from the side and didn't attempt to remain on his feet.
And yet despite the break in play, neither referee Frank Murphy nor his television match official—Scottish Rugby Union-appointed Neil Paterson—made the decision to examine the incident in more detail.
That oversight has now been compounded after it emerged the United Rugby Championship's citation committee failed to flag any concern within the necessary window.
Fans expressed their disappointment that nothing was done about Cherry's charge in at the time, with one describing the incident at the time as "utterly disgusting" and a "blatant red."
Another fan addressed the URC via Twitter on Tuesday, asking if there had been a citation update regarding the "blatant bit of thuggery."
The furore continued on Wednesday as one user surmised Cherry had made "direct head to head contact, no mitigation and in from the side," and yet it went missed by officials: "Nothing, they didn’t even review it."
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Former Ospreys and Bristol coach-turned-broadcaster Sean Holley appeared on the BBC's Scrum V and was also incredulous as to how Cherry had avoided punishment at the time.
"It’s really bad," he said. "There’s no mitigation. It’s a clear, reckless head-on-head.
"You absolutely fear for the player — both players. James goes down, the game was stopped for a long time.
"It’s foul play. How that wasn’t looked at in a bit more detail — there was certainly enough time — I don’t know.
"For me, it’s a straight red. I can’t understand it. We are seeing that angle. The TMO must have had it.
"The referee, you can understand maybe, in the hullabaloo and the speed of the game. If you have a good look at that from a couple of angles, it’s quite clear to me."
Supporters' fears were increased after Botham, 23, was carted off while receiving oxygen, though he took to social media later on Saturday evening to reassure his followers.
"Ive (sic) had all the relevant investigations and have been cleared to travel home with the team," he wrote on Twitter. "I couldn’t thank @EdinburghRugby @NHS_Lothian enough for all care."
He later added: "Thank you to everyone for the messages it means a lot."
Nine-cap Wales prospect Botham has already been forced to overcome some substantial injuries in his blossoming career, though this will cause frustration as a much more avoidable setback.
The up-and-coming star was delayed in his start to the season but was available for the Champions Cup defeats to Toulouse and Harlequins in December, when Cardiff were operating with a heavily depleted squad.
Botham now awaits news of how long he'll be sidelined as a result of this latest blow, though he'll hope to be back in time to challenge for a place in Wayne Pivac's Six Nations squad.
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