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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Butch James banned for four weeks for dangerous charge against the Brumbies

Earlier this week Lions flyhalf Butch James was suspended for four weeks for charging into a ruck dangerously against the Brumbies in Johannesburg. He was yellow carded at the time, and put on a white card, referring him to the citing commissioner.

James, Springbok World Cup winning number ten in 2007, added to his reputation of being a bit of a hot-head after he charged into a ruck during the Lions' 34-20 loss to the Brumbies.

"The citing alleged that Butch James robustly and recklessly from some metres charged into the ruck and made contact with the Brumbies player in a defenseless crouching position contesting for ball," said SANZAR judicial officer Mike Heron. 

"The citing alleged the contact was against the head and jaw of the Brumbies player that knocked him over and he landed on the ground dazed. The contact was made at speed and James made no attempt to grasp him in any legitimate tackle or clean out.

"The contact was to the head, neck and shoulder area of the Brumbies player and was dangerous by virtue of its location, the speed and force involved and the lack of ability for the Brumbies player to prepare himself. I find that the tackle was in breach of Law 10.4(h) - A player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without use of the arms, or without grasping that player - and do not need to look at the alternate basis for the citing (10.4(k))."

James pleaded guilty following a review of the footage, as Heron explained in a detailed statement.

"I talked through the match footage with the player, his lawyer and, in particular Mr Ferreira the Lions technical analyst. They made legitimate points in mitigation as to the incident, including that the entry into the ruck was lawful and that James was committed by the time of the penalty.

"It was accepted, however, that the conduct did amount to foul play and through his counsel, the player expressed remorse for the incident. In the circumstances I find that the conduct was intentional and dangerous, and accordingly warrants an entry point of mid-range. The appropriate starting point in my view is five weeks' suspension (from IRB Regulation 17 Appendix 1).

"I note that the Brumbies player continued to play after appearing to be injured temporarily. I did not have complete medical information from the Brumbies (through no fault of theirs) but I received a note to the effect that the Brumbies player remained affected by the contact after the game. James explained that he spoke to the Brumbies player at the end of the match and asked him whether he was okay - James stated that the player said he was.  

"In the circumstances I do not add any further penalty for this matter. Butch James has one previous disciplinary matter relating to a dangerous tackle from the 2011 season.

"He was suspended for four weeks as a result of a dangerous tackle that was categorised as intentional, high and dangerous. I have considered whether to add a further penalty for this previous incident, but have decided not to in the circumstances, including that the conduct is not sufficiently similar and to do so could amount to punishing the player twice.

"At the very least, the existence of this previous matter removes the ability for James to receive any discount for an otherwise good record. Matters in mitigation include the players acceptance of his wrong, his remorse for the same (expressed to me) and his plea of guilty.

"He received a yellow card, which in turn adversely impacted on the Lions during the game. The player has a long and impressive rugby record, and it was submitted that any suspension from Super Rugby at this stage in his career would have a particularly marked impact (I accept that).

"Through counsel, he was remorseful and apologetic for his conduct. To recognise and acknowledge the immediate guilty plea and remorse, I am prepared to reduce the sanction by a week, resulting in an ultimate sanction of four weeks," Heron concluded.

James, who recently announced his retirement from Test rugby, will miss the Lions tour, and be out of all forms of rugby for four weeks, up to and including Saturday 26 May 2012.

Posted at 12:50 pm | 22 comments

Butch James dangerous tackle vs the Sharks

Butch James hit on Stirling Mortlock

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 22 comments

themull May 03, 2012 2:57 pm

Four weeks is a bit harsh...A yellow card seemed fine by me...I mean it's just a shoulder charge right?

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The Green Mafia May 03, 2012 3:05 pm

4 weeks a bit harsh? I think it's not harsh enough!

We need to focus on what matters here. Stop picking on tackles that seem fine to everybody and pinging them with bans and focus on dirty play. That was unnecessary, illegal, really dangerous (he was lucky this time, a shoulder to the face can break bones) and AFTER the whistle. Don't tell me he wanted to clear the ruck, he came sideways and dropped his shoulder and still acomplished nothing. He has a reputation of a bit of dangerous tackling (i.e. shoulder tackles and high tackles) so give him the max ban in the cathegory. And leave honest tackles (the ones who arent dangerous but you blow out of proportion because the feet passed the horizontal) alone!

One of these days we won't be able to make a legal tackle, yet this type of foul play gets lightly punished

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stroudos May 03, 2012 3:47 pm

Totally agree with Green Mafia.

What a nutcase, his team's got a penalty coming, the whistle's gone and THEN he runs in with a hard, malicious cheap shot.

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TeamDuck May 03, 2012 3:53 pm

Looking a it he clearly went after the guy, notice the driving elbow, makes you wonder why was he so frustrated? Even more so to wonder why he couldn't just put a big hit in, instead...

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asdfghjkl1 May 03, 2012 4:20 pm

Our outside centers received a broken neck from a similar charge this weekend. I agree with The Green Mafia. He should be there to play rugby and not to purposefully inflict bodily harm to people enjoying the game with him.

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salefanjack May 03, 2012 5:42 pm

yellow is all it needs for me, too much physical aggression is being taken out of the game these days, Haskell got a white card for just a couple of punches! whats that about.... its part of the sport.

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thunor May 03, 2012 6:40 pm

Punching and shoulder charging are not 'part of the sport'. They never were part of the sport. Just because people do it, or have done it in the past, does not legitimise it in any way.

A great lesson of rugby is supposed to be learning to control aggression and be disciplined. If a player can't do that, then they must accept the consequences.

This isn't about changes to technical issues of tackling, or scrummaging or other aspects of legitimate gameplay (which *are* part of rugby). It was just mindless aggression.

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Pretzel May 03, 2012 6:47 pm

I get bored of this kind of stuff. Once again refereeing is WAY out of synch with the governing body... yellow card=sit down and cool off DOES NOT = 4 week ban...

Granted they didn't quite see it, but what is the point in cards these days?

Surely the spirit of the game is to punish a team during the game, it is a team sport, there is no single person, if you get a yellow or red you're letting your team down. All this "white card, after game punishment" is taking away the collective team and singling out individuals. If THIS is worth 4 weeks, then it IS worth a RED!

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Pretzel May 03, 2012 6:49 pm

Sorry just to add on, this is really my disgust at how pointless the white card in its current state is... IMO it should be a time off card and should get the citing commissioner on the mic or another official who is watching it on a screen to give more information about the incident and his recommendation so a punishment can be dished out THERE AND THEN!

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Javier Xavier May 03, 2012 8:13 pm

I agree with Pretzel, if it is bad enough for four weeks then it is bad enough for a red. But a live judiciary hearing is not the solution, as it would slow the game down. Better to use the white for situations where something clearly happened but the refs missed it (e.g. a brawl or something unseen) and also give the judiciary committee ability to review any reported foul play, independent of whether it was picked up by the ref.

But most importantly just be consistent and transparent in the decisions!

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Pretzel May 03, 2012 8:52 pm

Would it really slow the game down? I don't really understand how it could?

-Ref blows whistle at 0:10
-Butch James hit at 0:11 (ish)
-Referee blows whistle again at 0:12 (To indicate that players need to stop everything now!)
-Referee blows whistle for time off at 0:15
-Referee starts to talk to touch judge 0:46
-Referee finishes talk with touch judge at 1:02
-Yellow card issued at 1:26

You telling me that for the sake of about another 10-20 seconds the referee couldn't include something like below, and actually get the correct decision?

-(Referee could slip in a comment right now saying "video official please review this, I'll get back to you") 0:17
-(Referee could ask video official if he has anything to add/alter/change) 1:04

I'm not saying it SHOULD be included, however referee's clearly aren't making the correct decisions recently, so why is this not being addressed?

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Matt May 04, 2012 11:16 am

It's an interesting suggestion Pretzel. What about if, once a yellow and white card was issued, they used the period of time that the guy is in the sin-bin to make a decision about whether it's a yellow/red? That wouldn't interrupt the flow of the game and would give sufficient time for the TMO to make an informed judgement.

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Pretzel May 04, 2012 5:17 pm

Sounds like a better option to me, whatever happens the guy would be sat down for 10 minutes, so if he comes back on and gets a red then it wouldn't make too much of a difference. Especially if he knows it could be coming.

At least that way a player would be appropriately punished during the game and we wouldn't have one of those "the game would be different if he had been sent off"..

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Canafrikaaner May 03, 2012 7:52 pm

4 weeks a little harsh but then again this is pro rugby and that was a rookie maneuver

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ItalianRef May 03, 2012 9:59 pm

still thinking.. what is that stupid white card useful for?

citing comisioners can do their job even whithout it and, frankly, unless the field ref can get a real-time answer (by the TMO?) on what he is doubting is a yellow or red infraction then I really find the white card quite useless. and honestly speaking quite ridiculus...

as for the event. I would have pulled a red card. to punish anti-sportsmanship, dangerous play (after the whistle blow) and, above all, sheers stupidity. i guess though that 4 weeks will give him the time to think about it and that his team manager will help him mature as an individual.

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Pretzel May 04, 2012 6:37 am

I'm totally with you on that one! The white card is useless. Incidents which need a referee to pull out the white card are generally high profile anyway (time off, confusion, discussions, unsure verdicts/punishments)... So are we supposed to assume that citing commissioners wouldn't notice those?

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Scarlet Beast May 03, 2012 10:54 pm

That was a stupid thing to do. Maybe not as stupid as the Lions contracting Butch James. He is just one of those players that you know will do something silly like this sooner or later.

He did have a point about going in on the whistle. it was only like a milisecond after the ref blew the whistle. That doesn´t change the fact that it was a stupid or dangerous

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Scarlet Beast May 03, 2012 10:57 pm

That was a stupid thing to do. Maybe not as stupid as the Lions contracting Butch James. He is just one of those players that you know will do something silly like this sooner or later.

He did have a point about going in on the whistle. It was only like a milisecond after the ref blew the whistle, but he was already in motion. That doesn´t change the fact that it was a stupid or dangerous thing to do. With his reputation I´m surprised he only got 4 weeks.

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WelshOsprey May 04, 2012 5:55 am

Bakkies Botha gets away with worse than that at every ruck

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thamesrowingclub May 04, 2012 2:43 pm

4 weeks? 10 minutes was fine. Trying to poke somebody's eyes out is a big deal. Kicking a guy in the balls is a big deal. Hitting a ref is a big deal. Entering a ruck from the side with bad intentions is not a big deal. Mostly just dumb.

I've only seen a couple things in my life in which a player deserved a four game ban. Stop with the suspensions. You people are ruining rugby.

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thamesrowingclub May 04, 2012 2:44 pm

4 weeks? 10 minutes was fine. Trying to poke somebody's eyes out is a big deal. Kicking a guy in the balls is a big deal. Hitting a ref is a big deal. Entering a ruck from the side with bad intentions is not a big deal. Mostly just dumb.

I've only seen a couple things in my life in which a player deserved a four game ban. Stop with the suspensions. You people are ruining rugby.

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se7 May 04, 2012 3:26 pm

As the two posts happened to be directly beside each other;
with regard to refereeing consistency,
how was the GBH on Leo Cullen in the dying moments of the HC semi not seen or dealt with?
It was clear as the game happened live that he had been charged with head to head contact, and then had hands placed all over his head?
While it may or may not warrant a yellow (or white) or red, or penalty without sanction,
how can one be worthy of action and another be overlooked entirely ?

the hemispheres aren't that different (pokes knowingly)

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