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Warburton admits Rolland was right

Updated: Thursday, 03 Nov 2011 16:11

The red card - Sam Warburton lifts and drops Vincent Clerc
The red card - Sam Warburton lifts and drops Vincent Clerc

Wales World Cup captain Sam Warburton admits that the tackle that saw him sent off in their semi-final defeat to France was "uglier" than he had thought, and that referee Alain Rolland was correct to show him a red card.

The 23-year-old Cardiff Blues flanker led Warren Gatland's side with great aplomb in New Zealand but saw red just 17 minutes into their last-four clash after a tip tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc.

Irish official Rolland came in for criticism for his decision after Wales went on to suffer a heartbreaking 9-8 defeat at Eden Park, but the International Rugby Board backed their man for following a directive that any tackle where a player is lifted and not returned to ground safely should result in a dismissal.

And Warburton, currently serving a three-week ban for his tackle, said: "I have seen it played back, the tackle is a lot uglier than I thought it was at the time. When I looked at it on the replays it looked worse than I thought it was.

"I didn't intend to do anything like that and I had only had a yellow card in my career up until that point so it was a shock to get a red, but there was nothing I could do and I just had to support the boys for the rest of that match and the remaining game against Australia.

"At the end of the day the IRB said if you lift up a player and drop him it's a red card, and that's exactly what I did. I can't complain. There was no point in appealing against it and I didn't have a leg to stand on really."

Warburton led Wales' bid to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy in the absence of regular captain Matthew Rees, who missed the tournament with a neck problem.

But the Scarlets hooker has recently returned to action and has stated his desire to take back the captaincy.

Warburton readily admits he would be keen to hold on to the leadership role, but will go with whatever decision head coach Gatland makes ahead of next month's meeting with Australia in Cardiff.

"I can understand both scenarios," he said.

"If it was offered to me again I would take it, but Matthew did a great job during the Six Nations so I would understand if they want to give it back to him. But personally I would love to hold on to it after enjoying it at the World Cup."

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