I wrote an article during the enforced break due to Covid about the Disciplinary goings on this year, out of 8 hearings, only 2 of the offences had seen a red card brandished https://debsknigsport.com/2021/01/30/disciplinary-matters-does-sir-need-to-brush-up/ Based on the fact that 5 red cards were shown over the weekend of 19-21st February it suggests a Zoom meeting may well have taken place. In addition to the 5 cards shown, one incident, involving Sam Bedlow of Bristol Bears was added to the Disciplinary Hearings list via the Citing Commissioner. As in the last article let’s look at the specifics in the order the hearings were heard.

  • Val Rapava-Ruskin – Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby – 19-02-2021 – Offence 9.12 Striking with the Arm/Elbow – The Bath player passed both the HIA on the day and 2 subsequent HIA tests. The result was Bath 16 Gloucester 14
    • The offence was admitted
    • Wayne Barnes, referee – “In the 9th minute of the match, the TMO suggested that I looked at the big screen to determine whether foul play had occurred. Upon looking at the screen, I saw G1 carrying the ball just inside the Bath half. B4 attempted to tackle him. Prior to coming into contact with the Bath player, G1had the ball in his left arm. His right arm was away from his body and his right forearm / elbow came into direct contact with the head with the Bath player. I deemed this was foul play as his arm was not braced against his body prior to contact. I therefore issued a red card.”
    • The Bath player was not injured
    • The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed mid-range at 6 weeks
    • A full 50% deduction was given
    • A 3 week ban
  • Mike Williams – Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby – 19.02.2021 – Offence 9.13 Dangerous Tackle – The Gloucester player didn’t need any treatment after the injury. The result was Bath 16 Gloucester 14
    • The offence was admitted
    • Wayne Barnes, referee – I”n the 52nd minute of the match, the G15 caught the ball just outside his 22. He ran forward and was tackled by two Bath players. The tackle was high so I stopped the game and decide to look at the big screen to determine what sanction was appropriate. Upon looking at the screen, I saw B22 make the initial contact with his right arm, B5 then tackled the G15 high, his shoulder hitting G15 directly to the head. I deemed this to be of high danger as it was direct to the head, he had travelled from a distance, he was hitting up and the collision was at high speed. I did not deem that there was any mitigation to the offence. I therefore issued a red card”
    • The Gloucester player was not injured
    • `The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed mid-range at 6 weeks
    • A 2 week deduction was given (the player had 2 previous disciplinary offences)
    • A 4 week ban
  • Sam Bedlow – London Irish v Bristol Bears – 21-02-2021 – Offence 9.18 Tip Tackle – this offence was the one citing of the weekend.The London Irish player was not removed from the game. The result was London Irish 34 – Bristol Bears 34.
    • The offence was admitted
    • Nick Wood, Citing Commissioner – “London Irish attack from a lineout in the second minute of the game, passing the ball to the midfield. L10 misses the short line of L7 in order to pass to L12, who then passes the ball inside for L11 to run through a gap in the Bristol defence. Bristol 12 is the man who ends up tackling L12 shortly after the ball is passed. B12 is fully committed to the tackle on L12 and it is not late, as L12 has only just released the ball inside. B12 is bent at the waist and has his arms wrapped around the legs of L12. The start point of the tackle is not illegal. However, B12 continues through with the tackle, lifting both legs of L12 above the horizontal, to the extent that L12’s boots are vertical. B12 does not drive L12 into the ground but he does drop him to cause an uncontrolled landing – both L12’s feet are still off the ground as he hits the ground. L12 lands on his upper back/left shoulder, with the back of his head thrown into the ground. After a review with the TMO, the referee issues a yellow card to B12. However, on careful examination of the incident, the actions of B12 warrant a red card. He lifted both L12’s legs above the horizontal, causing a dangerous landing on the upper back/shoulder, with the back of L12’s head thrown into the ground. Therefore, there is a high degree of danger. B12 did not drive L12 into the ground, but he did release L12 whilst he was still in the air, failing to bring him to ground safely. Both L12’s feet are in the air as he hits the ground. DECISION: FULL CITING”
    • The London Irish player was not injured, Bledlow received a yellow card
    • The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed low end at 6 weeks
    • A full 50 % deduction was given
    • A 3 week ban
  • Kieran Brookes – Leicester Tigers v Wasps Rugby – 20-02-2021 – Offence 9.13 Dangerous Tackle – The Leicester player was not removed form the game – The result was Leicester Tigers 27 – Wasps Rugby 8
    • The offence was admitted
    • Craig Maxwell-Keys, referee – “Leicester ball carrier took the ball up into contact where he meet 2 Wasps tacklers. Wasps 3 never attempted to wrap his right arm as part of the tackle and was upright throughout the action. He tucked his arm across the front of his body and then his right shoulder connected direct to the head of the Leicester player. Since the action to fail to wrap made the act always illegal no mitigation can be considered so a RC shown upon TMO review.”
    • The Leicester player was not injured
    • The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed mid-range at 6 weeks
    • A full 50% deduction was given
    • A 3 week ban
  • Jasper Wiese – Leicester Tigers v Wasps Rugby – 20-02-2021 – Offence 9.20 Dangerous Play in a Ruck or Maul – The Wasps played was removed for an HIA. The result was Leicester Tigers 27 – Wasps Rugby 8
    • The offence was admitted
    • Craig Maxwell-Keys, referee – “Leicester ball carrier had been tackled to ground short of the goal-line. Leicester 8 arrived at this breakdown and with a tucked right arm/failure to bind as part of rucking a player out hit the Wasps player in the head with his right shoulder. RC shown upon TMO review.”
    • The Wasps player was not injured
    • The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed mid-range at 6 weeks
    • A 2 week deduction was given, the player had relevant disciplinary offences
    • A 4 week ban
  • Hanro Liebenberg – Leicester Tigers v Wasps – 20-02-2021 – Offence 9.17 Tackling the Player in the Air – The Wasps player was not removed during the game. The result was Leicester Tigers 27 – Wasps Rugby 8
    • The offence was admitted
    • Craig Maxwell-Keys, referee – “Wasps kicked off the ball and the chasing Wasps player jumped to catch the ball. Leicester 6 was never in a realistic position to catch the ball and took the space from under the jumping Wasps player, hitting him with his shoulder causing the airborne Wasps player to flip round the horizontal and land dangerously. RC shown post TMO review.”The footage shows that the player charged forward in an attempt to compete for the ball, and that he was watching the ball but was not aware of the Wasps player in the air until very late. He then attempted to stop but had moved into the area in which the Wasps player was going to land. The footage showed that the tackled player had managed to put his hands out to avoid a direct impact on to his head.
    • The Wasps player was not injured
    • The offence was deemed to be reckless
    • The offence was deemed low end at 4 weeks
    • A full 50% deduction was given
    • A 2 week ban

An additional red card was shown in the match between Ampthill and Bedford, presumably a friendly in preparation for the new, shortened Championship season, this one was a bit different to those in the Premiership

  • Oliver Curry (Bedford) – Ampthill v Bedford Blues – 20-02-2021 – Offence 9.12 Punching or Striking
    • The Assistant Referee report – “At the Ampthill 5m line. The scrum set piece completed and payers rose from it pushing and shoving. Players from both sides joined from all angles and the situation escalated into in goal. Players from both sides became increasingly aggressive. At this time I saw the Bedford No:6 punch an Ampthill player clear in the face (contact on LH side of jaw). The Referee Neil Chivers blew the whistle and eventually the players were separated. I gave my report on the pitch advising a red card for Oli Curry (Bedford no: 6) “
    • The Offence was admitted
    • The offence was deemed to be deliberate
    • The offence was deemed mid-range at 6 weeks – Making contact with the victim’s head gives rise to a mandatory minimum mid-range entry point. The absence of injury, the retaliatory nature of the actions and the lack of impact on the match mean that a top-end entry point would be inappropriate
    • A full 50% deduction was given
    • A 3 week ban .

22 weeks of bans handed out by the Disciplinary Committees. There were the usual – ‘the game’s gone soft’ comments on social media, but the aim of ensuring the laws are adhered to is to change player behaviour, players heads in particular MUST be protected. We rarely see players tackled in the ao=ir after a spate of red cards, hopefully offences like those above will stop happening too.

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