rugby world cup 2019

Ireland's Aki gets three-match ban; World Cup over

4 Comments
By Gabriel BOUYS

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4 Comments
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a sad day for the new zealander

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That's a shame for him.

These new rules aren't quite right. 

During the Japan v Scotland match, Horie suffered a nasty gash to the head because of a "head clash" during a tackle. TMO review confirmed it was all ok - presumably head clashes are considered to be pure accidents.

Whereas Aki attempting an honest tackle has his shoulder come into contact with Seuteni's head, and gets a red card plus a 3 match ban.

So what sense is there in this completely different treatment? 

A head clash in a tackle looks equally as (if not more) dangerous. Both might be said to be a combination of bad luck as the runner's position dropped toward the ground, and poor tackle technique (especially in the "head clash" case I thought). The difference between a shoulder and a head is pretty small, considering the fluid situation on the field. 

Fingers crossed that the World Cup isn't completely spoiled by something like this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sports like rugby and American football are in an impossible position. The sports are inherently violent. Large men running at full speed and hitting each other will do damage to their bodies. Heads are particularly vulnerable, and recent research is exposing how dangerous and debilitating head hits are over the long-term. The sports can make rules against hits to the head, but they are often outlawing unavoidable parts of the game. Players can try to be careful, and the rules can encourage them to be more cautious, but players still end up being penalized for accidents and routine plays. Tackles and hits are split-second events. The person with the ball shifts slightly at the last second, and suddenly a safe hit becomes dangerous. The tackler should be penalized for this?

The rules that leagues are setting in order to protect players are largely arbitrary. American football bans helmet-to-helmet hits, but a shoulder smashing into a head is still O.K., even though it could cause just as much damage. Rugby bans high hits, which presumably rules out most instances where a shoulder might hit a head, but head-to-head contact is still often O.K. Meanwhile, the committees reviewing these hits have the luxury of watching them in slow motion, which distorts the event. When half a second is stretched into two or three seconds, it makes random actions and accidents look a lot more avoidable.

The non-call in the hit on Horie in the Japan-Scotland match seemed like the right call to me, even though Horie took a nasty hit and probably should have been taken from the game and checked for a concussion before being allowed to return. Should the tackler have been penalized for leading with his head? He would have been in American football. It was poor tackling technique and dangerous, but it wasn't a high tackle by rugby standards.

Aki, meanwhile, made arguably a safer tackle--his body was squared up and aiming low like it ought to be--but the other player was crouching to gather up the ball. A shoulder caught a chin. A dangerous situation? Yes. But a three-match ban for Aki? What would any player have done differently in that situation? The ball was bouncing loose. Any player would run toward it. When an opposing player scoops it up a yard away, any player would continue forward and tackle. Had Seuteni been fully standing, and had Aki lunged upward so that his shoulder caught the other player's head, I could understand the red card and ban better. But Seuteni was crouched and leaning forward. He'd made it impossible to hit anything but his head. It would be hard to find many rugby players who would blame Aki here because they all know that they would have made the same play.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The authorities really need to make a difference between intentional foul play and accidental. I know, easy to say and difficult to implement. There has to be a balance between protecting the players and not ruining the game. It seems that a few times in this RWC the refs have been on the wrong side of this equation. Ireland lose one of their best players for what turned out to be a fairly harmless mistake.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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