‘Pro­tected species’ tag re­turns

Tack­les fo­cus after All Blacks beat France in opener Briefly

Wanganui Chronicle - - Sport -

NEW ZEALAND the big­gest cheats then. Can­ter­bury got on top and they were the big­gest cheats

. . . you have just got to roll with that sort of stuff.”

Hansen is more con­cerned that rugby au­thor­i­ties are con­tin­u­ing to take an in­flex­i­ble ap­proach to a com­plex is­sue that is never quite as black and white as those run­ning the game want it to be.

World Rugby’s cru­sade to elim­i­nate high tack­les and as­so­ci­ated head knocks has global sup­port.

But not all high tack­les are the same — and the sit­u­a­tion at Eden Park was com­pounded by the re­fusal of ref­eree Luke Pearce to use the TMO to sup­port his de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

French lock Paul Gabril­lagues was yel­low­carded de­spite the fact the ini­tial con­tact on Ryan Crotty wasn’t high. In real time the tackle looked bad, but on the re­play, it was bor­der­line whether it was even a penalty.

The sec­ond tackle un­der scru­tiny was the dou­ble team hit by Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’un­gafasi on Remy Grosso which re­sulted in the French wing frac­tur­ing his skull in two places.

Ques­tions have in­evitably arisen as to how Gabril­lagues could be carded for his tackle while nei­ther Cane nor Tu’un­gafasi were pu­n­ished in the same way. And nei­ther will be as nei­ther has been cited and won’t be.

“I can un­der­stand they will be a lit­tle miffed when their guy got yel­low-carded. But as I said last night, I don’t think their guy should have been yel­low-carded,” Hansen said.

“Nor do I think that Ofa should have been yel­low­carded ei­ther. Our game is fluid and there is move­ment in it and when you get two guys com­ing into make a tackle on one, things can change late and I think that is what hap­pened.

“Sam made the tackle and Ofa ended up hit­ting him [ Grosso] in the face with his shoul­der ac­ci­den­tally. There was no in­ten­tion to hurt him.

“It is one of those things. All three of them got head knocks. When the game is fluid like it is and play­ers change their an­gle late, and you have com­mit­ted, es­pe­cially if you are a big guy, it is dif­fi­cult to get out of the way.”

Per­haps the sense of con­tra­dic­tory ref­er­ee­ing wouldn’t have arisen had the in­ex­pe­ri­enced Pearce not been so de­ter­mined to make his de­ci­sion based on what he saw in real time.

When Gabril­lagues ini­tially made con­tact, it re­sulted in Crotty’s head be­ing thrown back and the All Blacks mid­fielder went down in a dra­matic heap.

Most ob­servers, on that ev­i­dence, were sure they had seen an atroc­ity but the re­play killed that no­tion.

Sonny Bill Wil­liams is a sur­prise pos­si­bil­ity to be avail­able for the third test against France in Dunedin in a fort­night.

The mid­fielder had surgery on his right knee only 10 days ago, but such is his quick re­cov­ery that the med­i­cal staff have given him the all-clear to start run­ning al­ready.

He will miss this Satur­day’s test in Welling­ton, with Ryan Crotty and Anton LienertBrown likely to be re­tained in the mid­field should they back up okay from Eden Park.

Wil­liams will prob­a­bly wear the No 12 jer­sey in Dunedin, with Crotty moved to cen­tre.

French lock Paul Gabril­lagues is yel­low-carded for a high tackle that wasn’t.

PHOTO / PHO­TO­SPORT

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