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Trevor Brennan does a Cantona!

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Square Ball:
Brennan and Thomas hit by charges 
Toulouse player Trevor Brennan lashed out at an Ulster fan
Toulouse players Trevor Brennan and Gareth Thomas will both face misconduct charges arising from last Sunday's Heineken Cup clash against Ulster.
Brennan faces an ERC charge of assaulting Ulster supporter Patrick Bamford after leaving the playing area at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

Thomas is alleged to have engaged in "aggressive exchanges with spectators".

The Welsh international's hopes of playing in this year's Six Nations are threatened by any potential ban.

The charge levelled against Thomas says that he "aggressively attempted to enter one of the seating areas" and/or "made an offensive hand gesture towards spectators".

Brennan claimed he was provoked by chants about his mother but this has been "categorically" denied by Ulster supporter Bamford.

Former Ireland World Cup forward Brennan and ex-Wales captain Thomas must now attend disciplinary hearings following an initial investigation by European Rugby Cup disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor.

The ERC have also announced further investigation into the behaviour of a section of Ulster supporters, and Toulouse's alleged failure to control their players with regard to the incident.

Disciplinary hearings for Brennan and Thomas will be convened as soon as practicable.

Toulouse mounted a vigorous defence of Brennan but Ulster claimed Brennan had tarnished rugby with his actions.

Brennan appeared to punch Bamford several times leaving the 25-year-old accountant with a suspected fractured skull.

Brenna appeared to punch Bamford several times are they missing something?


Over the Bar:
To add a further slant I met a fella at the gym tonight who was a few rows away from the unfortunate punch-bag. This fella agrees with  most of what's been said however he says that he didnt hear any shouts about his pub not being up to scratch but that the crowd around him & Bamford were chanting was "Leinster reject!".  He unlike a lot of others have said did not expect Brennan to shake hands, but expected someone was gonna get a smack.


Evil Genius:
More background, both on TB and the Ulster Support, from Monday's Belly Telly:


Leinster supporters stand up for the Ulstermen

Monday, January 29, 2007

By Gavin Mairs

Rugby never ceases to amaze. At the end of last week, in the midst of the fall-out from the Trevor Brennan affair and with Ulster's supporters in the dock rather than the indefensible actions of the Toulouse player who left Patrick Bamford with a suspected fractured skull, a letter arrived on my desk.

It was written by a group of Leinster supporters, who were unhappy at what they perceived as the "negative commentary on the nature of Ulster Rugby and its fans".

The letter was the culmination of a number of messages of support for the reputation of Ulster Rugby on a Leinster fans' website forum following claims on Dublin airwaves and by a number of commentators that although Brennan had denied there was any sectarian nature to his provocation and Bamford's strong rebuttal that he verbally abused the player's mother, there was no smoke without fire.

Considering Brennan is a former Leinster player and has rightly earned something of a cult status for his rise from playing junior rugby with Barnhall to winning two Heineken Cup medals with Toulouse, those messages of support can only be viewed as massive gestures of goodwill.

And the most rigorous sign yet that despite the mud that was thrown and allegations made by people who should know better or by people who rarely have observed Ulster or their supporters either at Ravenhill or on the road, that the spirit of the game in providing a bond between people of all walks of life remains strong.

"We are a group of Rugby fans first and foremost, and are all holders of Leinster Rugby season tickets," said the letter. "Over the past number of days, we have become increasingly uncomfortable with the negative commentary on the nature of Ulster Rugby in general, and Ulster rugby fans in particular.

"We have forged strong links with Ulster Rugby over the past number of years, and in mobilising our own Supporters' Club and away travelling support, we have come to regard our interprovincial derbies as both a rugby, and social highlight, in the calendar. Bus trips to Ravenhill are over-subscribed, and demand for tickets far exceeds supply.

"We have developed friendships with staunch Ulster Rugby supporters, and have always noted the strong "family" ethic around matches at Ravenhill Road.

"We enjoy our differences, and celebrate our similarities, in a spirit of hospitality and good nature. We have always been humbled and impressed by the spirit in which we have been received, at Ravenhill Road. Our tickets, for away matches, are usually designated for both seated Stand, and terrace areas, and it is a testament to the goodwill and general atmosphere at Ravenhill, that we inevitably congregate in the midst of the more vocal Ulster support base, on the Promenade at Ravenhill."

The letter goes on to highlight the standing ovation given to Brian O'Driscoll at Ravenhill in December 2005 on his first return to action following his shoulder injury sustained on the Lions tour and denies that abuse for away teams is unparalleled at Ravenhill or that Ulster's supporters are inextricably linked to sectarianism.

Such sentiments only serve to remind what a positive force rugby has been on this troubled island in giving people a reason to look beyond their differences and make friends and enjoy camaraderie with sections of society that they might not otherwise have done.

There has been a lot of hot air spouted about the rights and wrongs of what happened in the stand at the Stade Ernest Wallon and the spin about what was said or not said has provided a timely distraction from the bare facts that Brennan crossed a line that should never be crossed in sport.

Yes, he was the subject of banter, even if the content of his version of his provocation varies vastly from a vast number of eye witnesses, many of whom I know and trust, in the stand.

And suggestions that photographic evidence shows he was provoked by Ulster supporters showering him with beer are also misleading.

The time on the picture, which has been submitted to the ERC, as do eye witness accounts, confirm the beer was thrown as a reaction to Brennan's actions, not as a cause.

Indeed, if the stand had been such a bear pit that Brennan claims, it seems remarkable that nobody reacted more severely than hurling a plastic cup at him. But that too misses the point. No provocation warrants physical assault. Full stop.

Toulouse's indifferent response to the incident has been appalling and is matched only by the French police's ludicrous claim that it was purely a matter between two individuals. I'm not sure if a supporter had run onto the pitch and hit a player at least six times in the face they would have seen it that way.

Brennan's pleas of mitigation are also undermined by the fact that this wasn't the first time. He assaulted a supporter during Ireland's tour of South Africa in June 1998, which was hushed up by the IRFU, while in a Heineken Cup match for Toulouse against Edinburgh in April 2004, he also hit the opposing team's physio.

Perhaps those victims will also be now blamed for provoking poor Trevor as well.

Of course in every crowd you get idiots who go too far and Ulster are no different. As rugby becomes more popular, so the dynamic of supporters changes and at times the standard of behaviour is unacceptable.

But that is not Ulster's problem alone. As the Leinster supporters will tell you.


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