Gloucester kicked off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 19-14 victory over French outfit Castres Olympique, but it could have been much more comfortable after they were on the receiving end of a controversial decision to deny them their first try of the game.
With Exeter and Munster playing out a 10-10 draw on the Saturday, Pool Two opened up for one of Gloucester or Castres to stamp their authority on the group and gain an early advantage.
It was Gloucester who looked to start strongly in front of their home crowd at Kingsholm and took an early lead when Danny Cipriani converted a penalty after 10 minutes.
It was just four minutes later that the controversial moment occurred.
Callum Braley spotted a gap on the blindside following a ruck and powered through it, before feeding Tom Marshall who touched down for what was seemingly Gloucester’s first try of the encounter.
However, Marshall and Gloucester’s joy was short lived, with referee Marius Mitrea taking a look at TMO before ruling that Fraser Balmain had tackled a Castres player off the ball, therefore disallowing the try.
The decision was called “an absolute shocker” on commentary and caused outrage amongst the Kingsholm crowd, with Balmain seemingly clearing a player out as part of the ruck, therefore making his tackle a fair one.
Watch the incident for yourself and make up your own mind.
The mood was not improved as Castres restarted the play and were awarded a penalty to level up the tie.
However, fortunately for Gloucester and Mitrea, the decision did not affect the overall outcome, with Gloucester moving into a 13-6 lead at half-time, before seeing out a close contest in the second half, with the score finishing 19-14 in the English side’s favour.
Gloucester will be pleased with a positive opening to the Champions Cup and sit at the top of table in Pool Two, but they’ll be hoping for some less controversial officiating in the coming weeks.