Harri Deaves has denied intentionally making contact with the eye area of an opponent after the Welsh youngster’s sending off in the U20s Six Nations on Tuesday evening.
Wales’ replacement openside flanker received a red card in the 49th minute against Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park.
Referee Adam Leal acted after studying a video replay of the incident involving Deaves and Scotland loosehead prop Michael Jones, with the official ruling Deaves had made contact with Jones’ eye area.
Read more: Wales unearth a new gem in Deaves
The Pontyclun product had been trying to achieve a possession steal from Jones, who had the ball tucked beneath his chin on the floor. It seemed Deaves misjudged the attempted turnover, but Leal, after consulting with TMO Luke Pearce, opted to send him off, telling the 20-year-old: “We’ve checked it.
“Your hands have gone into the eye area.”
Despite Deaves’ protests, he was still sent from the field.
Later, he took to social media to say that his biggest fear involved losing his vision and he would never intentionally touch anyone else’s eyes. He finished his post by saying sorry.
In response to the youngster’s tweet, former Wales forward Andrew Coombs replied: “Head up Harri. It was a clear jackal attempt, with no intention to harm the Scottish player. Zero understanding from the match day officials.”
As co-commentator for BBC Wales, Wales back-row forward Ellis Jenkins also had sympathy for the highly rated Ospreys academy player, who had been returning to side after injury.
“I feel for him there,” said Jenkins.
“He’s competing for the ball. It’s unfortunate the Scotland loose head has got the ball tucked in.
“It’s under his chin, it’s close to his face and Harri Deaves has gone for the ball. A couple of players have come in to clean him out, and, unfortunately, his hand has gone into his face.
“I think that’s extremely harsh.”
Despite being a man shy for more than half-an-hour, Wales went on to win, hitting back from 24-19 down.
They finished 32-24 victors with four touchdowns, made up of a penalty try and a score apiece from Christ Tshiunza, Cameron Jones and Joe Hawkins, while Sam Costelow supplied 10 points with the boot.
Efan Daniel was named man of the match after a display which included a wonderful try-saving tackle on Scotland’s Euan Ferrie, with Daniel holding the lock up over the Welsh line.
The hooker was delighted with the win, saying: “We deserved nothing less.
“We had great spirit, great heart, we dug in and we gritted it out. We’ve worked for each other and came away with what we wanted.”
Coach Ioan Cunningham said: “Going down to 14 men I thought we showed the grit and spirit —calon as they say in Welsh — to stick in there at the end.
“I’m so chuffed for the boys. They deserve it after so much hard work has been put in.”
Wales finished fourth in the table, with two wins from five games.
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