Saints boss Mallinder issues response to McGeechan criticism

Former Saints coach Ian McGeechan (right) claimed England duo Dylan Hartley and Lee Dickson intimidated the referee against Wasps
Former Saints coach Ian McGeechan (right) claimed England duo Dylan Hartley and Lee Dickson intimidated the referee against Wasps
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Jim Mallinder has issued a response to Ian McGeechan’s comments about Saints’ conduct towards referee Craig Maxwell-Keys in last Friday’s win against Wasps.

Former Saints and Wasps boss McGeechan claimed England duo Dylan Hartley and Lee Dickson ‘intimidated’ Maxwell-Keys.

And he also blamed the Franklin’s Gardens faithful for putting pressure on the referee, who was taking charge of just his third Premiership game.

But Mallinder has defended the actions of his players and the supporters, stressing they did nothing wrong.

“It’s two things there,” said the Saints director of rugby. “I talked about an intimidating atmosphere and an intimidating home crowd, I think that’s brilliant. I think that’s something we want.

“Clubs in France – Toulon, Clermont where we are going on Saturday, to go out to Munster, to go to Leicester is fantastic. The crowds get behind the team. We are seeing that here.

“The crowd want us to be winners, they get behind the team and support our players.

“The language has got to be right and we don’t want any violence, but we want them to be passionate, we want them to be motivated and driven and to really want that team to do well. I think we are getting that here at Franklin’s Gardens.”

“It (McGeechan’s comments) also touched upon in terms of the man management of players. I think our leaders are doing a good job.

“You need to work with the referee and that’s what we did last weekend.

“I have gone through the tape and listened to everything that Dylan Hartley and Lee Dickson said and did with the referee and it’s working with them.

“It is good management of the referee and it’s something all the best captains and all the best leaders have done throughout their time.”

McGeechan had been critical of the supporters for the influence they had on the dismissal of Nathan Hughes.

The Wasps No.8’s knee left George North unconscious following the Wales wing’s second try and Hughes has since been banned for three weeks.

Mallinder was asked whether he had any sympathy for Hughes, and he said: “I don’t want to comment on that.

“I said at the time I think it was a red card offence. I still do. Therefore the disciplinary process has taken place and that’s what he’s got.

“My opinion is what it is. You’ve got to be very, very careful. George North scored a try and therefore there wasn’t much anybody could do about that.

“You’ve got to make as much effort as you can to get away from that incident. We don’t want that happening again.”