‘Protected species’ tag returns
Tackles focus after All Blacks beat France in opener Briefly
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