The World Rugby’s independent judiciary recently met to review the citing’s of Sam Cane and Malakai Fekitoa and I have to admit I am shocked by one decision and sadly unsurprised by the other.
Firstly, Sam Cane and his tackle on Rob Henshaw. In their wisdom they have decided that this was accidental and as such Sam Cane has no case to answer! Prior to the Autumn Internationals World Rugby stated they would be taking a zero tolerance towards tackling above the shoulders and dangerous tackles, this obviously was nothing more than a soundbite and clearly the suits at World Rugby cares nothing about the welfare of the players who provide them with a living.
Sam Cane led with his shoulder and as Henshaw was not stooping for Cane’s shoulder to connect with Henshaw’s face he had to be aiming to hit the player high, a tactic the All Blacks use consistently to try and reduce the player being tackled ability to offload the ball, although most of the time it is below the shoulder as they want to wrap the attacker’s arms up.
Similarly, Fekitoa comes in high on Simon Zebo, again if you watch the All Blacks regularly this is by design, yet whilst Fekitoa’s tackle is deemed worthy of censure by World Rugby, Sam Cane’s is not. Is it because Fekitoa connects with the forearm? Personally I would prefer to be hit with someone’s forearm rather than be shoulder charged in the face!
Which leads to the length of Fekitoa’s ban, one week!
Again this is not consistent with the edicts which World Rugby have been issuing. If you really want to eradicate these types of tackles make the punishment more severe than giving the player a week off because I can tell you this punishment does no damage to the All Blacks and very little to the player involved. I am not saying Fekitoa’s tackle deserved a six month ban but if he was banned for a number of internationals how would Steve Hansen feel if players started becoming unavailable for the Lions Tour next year?
And to the All Blacks, you defended heroically in Dublin but this will not be remembered instead this game will always be recalled as one where you overstepped the marks of what is acceptable. This may be the game plan that you were given before the match but I ask you to consider how would you feel if the opposition started trying to take your head off.