Provo­ca­tion should be as bad as re­tal­i­a­tion

The Rugby Paper - - News / Autumn Internationals -

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.

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