Provocation should be as bad as retaliation
LAST weekend Australia’s hooker Tolu Latu spiked any chance of a comeback against New Zealand in Tokyo after being sinbinned midway through the second half.
Latu’s crime was to respond to a push in the chest by his All Black counterpart Codie Taylor after a scrum had broken up with a penalty awarded to the world champions. It was deliberate niggle and Latu retaliated by pushing Taylor, although his openhanded shove was knocked upwards and connected partially with the New Zealand hooker’s chin.
No damage was done, but referee Romain Poite felt compelled to send Latu to the cooler – weakening his side at a crucial juncture – while the instigator, Taylor was deemed not guilty and remained on the pitch.
It is understandable that retaliation is seen by the disciplinary process as having a higher tariff than deliberate provocation, mainly because of the fear that incidents will escalate with more players becoming involved in vigilante reprisals.
I don’t agree that this should take precedence over natural justice. The instigator should not be given a free pass, because it is their initial action which has led to the flashpoint. Justice would have been best served if Taylor had been binned first for the initial offence, with Latu following him for retaliation.