Otago Daily Times

Three week ban for Tu’ungafasi



AUCKLAND: All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been banned for three weeks following his red card in last weekend’s loss to Australia in Brisbane.

A Sanzaar judicial hearing found Tu’ungafasi guilty of contraveni­ng Law 9.13, which states: ‘‘A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerousl­y’’, after Tu’ungafasi made high contact with Wallabies winger Tom Wright in the first half of the Bledisloe Cup finale on Saturday.

He will miss the All Blacks’ final two TriNations games against Argentina, and a preseason game for the Aucklandba­sed Blues.

The judicial committee deemed Tu’ungafasi’s high tackle merited a midrange entry point of a sixweek ban, due to the act being deemed to be foul play involving contact with the head.

However, Tu’ungafasi’s early guilty plea and clean judicial record led to his ban being halved.

World Rugby issued new guidelines on penalising high tackles in May last year, in a bid to drasticall­y reduce the number of head injuries and concussion­s in the sport.

Tu’ungafasi was one of two players to be sent off in the fierce encounter, which the Wallabies won 2422.

Wallabies loose forward Lachlan Swinton was also redcarded for a high tackle, and on Tuesday suspended for four weeks due to two previous offences.

All Black Scott Barrett and Wallaby Marika Koroibete also spent time in the bin after being shown yellow cards.

Tu’ungafasi’s suspension ends before the Blues’ Super Rugby Aotearoa opener against Hurricanes on February 27.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks are having to rely on footage from two trial matches to do any scouting of Argentina before their TriNations clash on Saturday, as the South Americans have not played a test since last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Until their matches against essentiall­y an Australia A side over the last two weekends, many of the Pumas players had not

even played any rugby since March, when the Covid19 pandemic shut down the Super Rugby competitio­n.

With tests in the July window also cancelled, the Pumas were restricted to contested training runs against each other as they went through a series of camps in biosecure facilities in Argentina, Uruguay and Australia.

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, however, said figuring out exactly how the Pumas may approach the game was an enjoyable part of the challenge for his team this week.

‘‘They haven’t had a lot of footy to play, so there’s not a heap to

look at film wise,’’ Whitelock said.

‘‘It has been refreshing trying to work out how they’re going to play and how we’re going to stop it. But then, also how are we going to impose our game on them.’’

Centre Anton LienertBro­wn said he watched some of the footage from the Pumas’ two warmup matches and he expected the influence of former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who is a consultant to the team, would be present.

‘‘He quite likes to play a fasttempo game with big ball carrying forwards, so I’m sure that influence will come through,’’ LienertBro­wn said.

‘‘They are looking sharp. We expect them to turn up like the Pumas do normally.’’ — The New Zealand Herald/Reuters

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