Bath boss Johann van Graan gives his verdict on Beno Obano's Premiership final red card

Johann van Graan believes rugby is a gladiatorial sport and has a sense of frustration that collisions like the one that saw Bath prop Beno Obano red-carded in the Premiership final are worthy of marching orders.

The England international loosehead prop was sent off by referee Christophe Ridley in the 22nd minute for a high tackle on number eight Juarno Augustus, with Bath going on to lose 25-21 to Northampton Saints. While Van Graan was gracious in defeat and had no problems with Ridley's interpretations of the current framework around high contact, he said: "I do not believe it is foul play but just a collision between two extremely powerful rugby players, a ball carrier and a defender. I am not going to get into the whole red card debate but it is unfortunate we had a World Cup final with a captain being red carded and now a Premiership final with a red card. I would love to keep 15 v 15 on the pitch but you will have no reaction from anyone in our group about the red card, that was the referee's call and we will stick by that. All we will focus on is our performance which was heroic."

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Augustus did not require a HIA despite Obano catching him on the chin with his shoulder. Van Graan continued: "I thought Christophe went through the process well, he has been the best ref in the Premiership this year, and all credit to him. I shook his hand after the final whistle. We have no issue on the red card, that was the decision that was made.

"Red cards are part of the game but it makes it very difficult to play with 14, but we as a group stuck with our processes and adapted with the game and have an exceptional leadership group who helped us.

"First of all we had to change a prop, which left us with an impossible decision to see who we took off - but all credit to Alfie [Barbeary, who made way]. He is one of our best players and he took it well. The way he is aligned to the group is exceptional, exemplary really.

"We made tactical decisions at halftime, and the result was very close but we came up just short with the last play of the game. We have trained for this, but this is a Premiership final and we needed to adapt in real-time."

Northampton scored three tries in their victory, crossing the line through Tommy Freeman, the Premiership's top tryscorer Ollie Sleightholme and England star Alex Mitchell. But Bath stayed in the fight until the last whistle with scores from Thomas du Toit and Will Muir and 11 points off the boot of fly-half Finn Russell.

Obano, whose hopes of going on tour with England to New Zealand this summer also lie in tatters, looked heart-broken as he was forced to watch the rest of the game from the bench.

Van Graan said: "Beno Obano is disappointed, but we are a circle of men and women of this club; we lose and win together and I am incredibly proud of the group's effort; that we fought, not only hung on during the game. We believed we could win right to the last play of the game. We are united as a group."