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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Manu Tuilagi tip-tackle citing dismissed ahead of South Africa tour

The Aviva Premiership final began in frantic fashion on Saturday as big hitting midfielder Manu Tuilagi was penalised for a tip-tackle on Danny Care. He was cited, but that was dismissed, making him available for England's tour of South Africa.

Tuilagi will fly out with England today as they take on the Springboks in a three-match series, with the first Test kicking off on 9 June in Durban, then the next two on 16 and 23 June.

His tour looked in jeopardy as he was cited for this tackle on Care in the opening minutes of the Premiership final between Leicester Tigers and Harlequins. A minimum suspension for such an offence would have been three weeks off.

Referee Wayne Barnes seemed to make the good decision at the time, stating that the tackle was above the horizontal, but not dangerous, and only penalised Tuilagi.

He was cited anyway though, pretty much overruling Barnes' call. The charge was later dropped however, after a three-man Rugby Football Union disciplinary committee ruled that they were 'not satisfied' that 21 year old Tuilagi should be punished.

"An RFU disciplinary panel of Christopher Quinlan QC (chair), Dan White and Nick Dark was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the referee was wrong in not sending the player off for a tackle on Harlequins' Danny Care during the Aviva Premiership final between the teams on May 26," an RFU statement read.

"Tuilagi is therefore free to continue playing and will fly out to South Africa with the England squad."

He spoke to Telegraph Sport after the verdict. "I'm really happy and can't wait to get to South Africa with the squad. I thought it was a good tackle and I'd like to thank the panel for listening to what I had to say and coming to their decision.

"It is going to be a massive tour and I am just relieved to be able to take part."

What are your thoughts on A) the tackle B) Wayne Barnes' call, C) the citing being dropped?

Posted at 10:22 am | 46 comments

Harlequins beat Leicester in 2012 Aviva Premiership final

Manu Tuilagi's huge hit on quick hands Dan Bowden

Manu Tuilagi tackles David Wallace out of RWC2011

Manu Tuilagi likely to be cited after punches on Chris Ashton

Nick Abendanon's Tuilagi brothers nightmare at the Rec

Manu Tuilagi's powerful try against Saracens

Manu Tuilagi's well timed tackle vs Northampton Saints

Manu Tuilagi's smashing tackle on Tom Williams

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 46 comments

Ruggernut May 30, 2012 12:27 pm

Right call in my opinion. In real time it didn't look like anything at all. I think Wayne Barnes has it right. That is was beyond the horizontal but not dangerous. He's also clearly taken into account the emotion that all players will be feeling and understands there will be a little extra bite in some of these hits. Fair call and no ban seems correct.

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jonowright May 30, 2012 12:34 pm

think Wayne barnes has got that spot on. solid hit, yes it went above horizontal but he has used judgement well in the situation. far too many times we have seen tackles like that being yellow carded. also very please that tuilagi is around for the SA tour, will be very useful

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tpiddy7 May 30, 2012 12:36 pm

Good call.

It also reminded me of Jonny tackling Justin Bishop (2003) -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbr20VPzBqU&feature=relmfu

Quite amazing to see the way the game (and subsequently commentary) has changed.

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stroudos May 30, 2012 2:04 pm

Classic. But not a fair comparison, Jonny's was an old-school spear tackle, just in the days when spear tackles were applauded not condemned.

You're right about the commentary - unfortunately the clip you posted just cut off before the real point of difference, where Brian Moore says "Look at that...", he then went on to say "Bang! Get down!". Which was considered perfectly valid commentary at that time.

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Arfur Jock May 30, 2012 1:11 pm

Perfect by ref - unnecessarily cited.

Not driven or dropped - perpendicular to the ground when landing. Nothing to see here.

Even penalty is harsh but refs have been told to crack down.

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Big Dan May 30, 2012 1:18 pm

Only reason he hasn't been cited is because he's off to SA with England. If he wasn't an international then he would have been. I've seen less get bans for. Same happened when Hartley should have been banned for longer for biting Ferris' fingers, got away with a lengthy ban because he's an England player.

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stroudos May 30, 2012 2:19 pm

Wahey, here he is, it's Mr Sourgrapes. Thought there'd be one along soon.

Your comment's all wrong: he was cited (by and idiot), but hasn't been banned. He hasn't been banned because the citing itself was a complete travesty. No case to answer.

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xxxwookie May 30, 2012 2:39 pm

Hartley got an 8 week ban based on no evidence. I'm far from saying he didn't do it, but it sounded rather a lot like conjecture. Someone said he did it so it happened. More to the point, he wasn't banned by the RFU and if you're implying that everyone wants to make England happy, you're on the very wrong path.

I think you may remember a year ago, Manu was expected to compete in the Churchill cup in the hope that he may gain the experience necessary for an England world cup campaign. In spite of this, the RFU banned him for a punch which led to him not playing for the Saxons.

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Rob Rich May 30, 2012 1:58 pm

Can someone advise me of the difference between Manu Tuilagi's tackle and Stephen Jones' (Scarlets v Ospreys), Stephen Ferris' (Ireland v Wales) or Justin Tipuric for that matter?
Its either illegal or not, there cannot be a subjective narrative to this. I'd love to jump on the bandwagon saying that without him England are effectively a 10 man team but really I'm more worried about yet another completely eggrarious regard for the directives laid out by the IRB

And for the record, I think its a perfectly legit tackle. The rules however, say that he should be suspended otherwise it continues to leave this situation open to yet more interpretation which means players are more hesitant and thus more prone to an injury

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xxxwookie May 30, 2012 2:35 pm

Important note - Stephen Ferris' tackle was cited and not upheld. The IRFU suggested that it was in fact implied in the citing that it was not worthy of a penalty, never mind a citing. The difference is much the same with anything in rugby, the referee's view at the time.

I thought the decision on Ferris' tackle was dreadful personally, Manu is lucky Barnes got a better view of this one. I'd say it would be useful for the IRB to clarify the law, but it's reasonably clear
Rule 10.4(j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Ferris didn't lift the man he tackled - bad decision. Manu didn't drop or drive the player into the ground such that his head or upper body come into contact with the ground

Directives say to start at a red card and work downwards, because of the severity of the offence and the broad ranging definition. i.e. if you very recklessly drop or drive the payer into the ground - red. lose control and the player ends up in this position - yellow. Easy really. Manu continues to drive with his legs, Care is turned to his front, his head/upper body do not hit the ground, this is a very good decision. Compare this to Sam Warburton who dropped Clerc so his shoulders/head came into contact with the ground first, that's an easy red.

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MisterDavid May 31, 2012 7:34 am

Heck, someone actually quoting the laws of the game!

And, as you say, it's pretty clear:

'Lifting a player from the ground...' - he didn't.
'Dropping or driving that player into the ground...' - he didn't.

And there you go. Shame for Ferris, relief for Tuilagi.

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Pretzel May 30, 2012 2:09 pm

*Yawn*...
A) Perfect
B) Good call given today's version of rugby
C) Good call...

A few points.. this tackle was FINE in my eyes, and considering I have only been playing rugby a few years more than Manu it says a lot about how the game has changed!!! Also see tpiddy7's comment and subsequent link...

So anyway, my opinion of the tackle counts for jacks**t.. This tackle (in the eyes of the law) was beyond the horizontal and therefore card worthy, so good call from Barnes to use his judgement....

My final point is "watch Tuilagi's body position." He goes in low, then drives/stands UP.. what do players expect is going to happen? I understand the driving back, and the driving up technique when it comes to tackling, but Manu stands up... now there is very little that can go RIGHT (in the eyes of the law!) with that kind of technique... Care was only ever going to go down upper body first...

We see it time and time again, last week it was Heymans.. etc... I find it surprising that players are even tackling like this nowadays given the card happy referee's and the ban happy governing bodies...

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xxxwookie May 30, 2012 2:43 pm

The "horizontal" is a myth invented by commentators to explain something to spectators. Like a lot of these things, it's more confusing than helpful. The law only states what happens at the end of the tackle. When Care hits the floor, the contact is on the arms and chest, not the shoulder/neck/head defined in the lawbook.

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Pretzel May 30, 2012 5:34 pm

So why do referee's talk about it all the time?

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xxxwookie May 31, 2012 10:29 am

I've personally never heard one say anything about the horizontal, but for the same reason as commentators. It's a bit more convoluted to quote the law at someone so using a phrase like "taken through the horizontal and put down on his head" is easier I suppose. The "horizontal" element though is not part of the law. You can lift the player through the horizontal all you like as long as he's put down horizontally.

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browner June 27, 2012 2:00 pm

It's all about degree .......

I'm no MT fan, but he kindof drove him sideways not downwards, players reactions don't always tell 100% but no-one in the HQ side batted a eyelid .... which likely says it all, and remember this was a 'pressure' match.

i agree with xxxwookie

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stroudos May 30, 2012 2:10 pm

Actually just watched again, Jonny's wasn't a spear at all was it. Just an awesome tackle.

And by the way, here's the complete series of play from that game, where Wilko was basically tackling anything that moved, including the classic "Bang - Get down" comment:
http://www.rugbydump.com/2006/10/31/jonny-wilkinson-big-hit-on-justin-bishop-in-2003

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Lewis May 30, 2012 2:20 pm

And same happened a year ago when Tuilagi punched Chris Ashton and England wanted him to get experience with the Saxons before the world cup... no, wait, he did get banned and did miss the Churchill Cup

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katman May 30, 2012 2:24 pm

Good call. We want their strongest side here in SA.

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Patrick May 30, 2012 2:39 pm

I good call from the ref (within the current laws and interpretation of the game) I think.

Although the tackle would have looked a lot worse if Care hadn't put his arm down. In which case it would have been a yellow card and probably a suspension.

For the sake of consistency this all of these sorts of tackles need to be ok, or otherwise this should have been a suspension. For that reason the I feel the RFU may have 'copped out' of giving a suspension because of the fact England have a big tour coming up in S.Africa and Tuilagi is going to play a big part in that.

Although in my opinion it shouldn't have even been a penalty, in the words of Tana Umaga "It ain't tiddlywinks".

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Kettlerugby May 30, 2012 2:48 pm

Correct call. Bit beyond horizontal but didnt let go or drive him down. No injury, no reaction, ref called it, End of.

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wolonel May 30, 2012 3:23 pm

Actually Tana is right Patrick! It aint tiddlywinks... In tiddlywinks any of the players can send any of the opposition cartwheeling through the air with no censure whatsoever. As us humans need to go to work or school or need the use of our spines and legs and stuff, we have a couple of rules in rugby (the best game on the planet) that allow us to keep this game going generation after healthy generation. Maybe straight red cards for spears and tips, along with lesser bans might be fairer, as they are rarely 'dirty play' by 'dirty players'? It all tends to come down to luck a lot of the time. Or even a 'tackle TMO'?

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Nico May 30, 2012 7:40 pm

Good call IMHO.

"An RFU disciplinary panel [...] was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the
referee was wrong in not sending the player off"

Sweet Jesus... Am I the only one thinking this sentence is a jus a tad unnecessarily convoluted??? Seems that RFU spends more time working on the report than making (often enough) good judgment calls....

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Guy May 30, 2012 8:00 pm

Watching the first replay: he even moves his arm up the body of Care to try and make sure he lands safely (I know: a matter of interpretation).

Very happy he has not been suspended. Sensible decision.

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stroudos May 30, 2012 8:21 pm

A) the tackle - beautiful, well-timed, perfectly executed. Not dangerous in this world or any other parallel reality. Tuilagi caressed Care to the ground with the consideration a newlywed might place his bride on the honeymoon bed.

B) Wayne Barnes' call - absolutely spot-on. Assessed the tackle in real time with magnificent understanding and empathy. Applied logic and common sense to his interpretation of the law. Communicated his decision in a timely and very clear way to all on the field.

C) the citing being dropped? - the only reasonable outcome. The original citing was a total travesty of the citing process.

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browner June 27, 2012 2:01 pm

consideration.....newlywed..... LMAO

fab !

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Quasimylo May 30, 2012 9:29 pm

I think the interesting thing here is that Tuilagi's tackle is almost exactly the same as Carl Hayman's last week, both in terms of intention and execution. The difference was that Danny Care put his hand out to break the fall, while Ngwenya didn't really have the chance as he was simultaneously being pulled down by Hayman's teamate (Van Nieckerk, I think).
Nonetheless, one is dismissed by the citing commission as not worthy of further punishment and the other is banned for four matches.
Now, according to the laws as they stand, I wouldn't question those two rulings, but it does seem inconsistent.

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Oceansnz May 30, 2012 11:47 pm

Well done. I think you've hit the main point on the head here. There was nothing wrong with Tuilagi's tackle, but the fact that Hayman's was similar and gets 4 weeks off raises the inconsistency issue.

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Arfur Jock May 31, 2012 10:19 am

I agree it is similar to Hayman's but not the same. Ngwenya's legs were lifted much higher and the first action looked as if he was going to land head-first even though did didn't in the end.

It is a fine margin but Tuilagi's tackle was not dangerous whereas Hayman's was. You can often tell from the reaction of all the players - no-one batted an eyelid at Tuilagi's tackle and the play continued. When Ngwenya's teammates saw his legs in the air and his head heading towards the ground they kicked off.

Hayman did very well to get that tackle back under control.

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Pretzel May 30, 2012 10:55 pm

Stroudos has pointed this out time, time, time, time, time, time, aaaaaaaaaand time again:

How many players have actually ended up with severe injuries through tip/spear tackles? How many players have ended up with severe injuries through legitimate tackles?
How many players have ended up with severe injuries through general game play; Scrums, mauls, rucks?

I can't say I am aware of a big table of stats showing the above "stuff" however, out of all the incidents I have read about, it appears that the well policed and well supported parts of the game are far more dangerous and "scary" than spear tackles...

Whilst I am aware that a spear tackles/tip tackles don't come under your 5 a day, and I am sure those on the receiving end of them don't feel overcome with pleasure, they have appeared not to be the primary cause of severe injuries... Again I understand that we would like for them to stay that way and not suddenly produce a horrific stat, but the way that people (often commentators) keep on about how utterly dangerous THEY ARE, is nonsense, or at least the statistics say so...

I believe spear tackles should be policed and perhaps should carry a red card, but all this call for bans that seem to come about is daft... it wasn't that long ago that a lot of people were agreeing that spear tackles need red cards without any real mention of bans, and now it seems the great debates amongst officials is about how long the ban's will be, rather than "was it the right card/no card"...

I don't know about you guys but in my experience, when I am playing rugby, not an awful lot has changed... I have suffered a few broken/dislocated digits, bumps, bruises, cuts, the odd deserved black eye, but no increase in injuries... so has the game itself got more dangerous to warrant these bans/cards.... or is it indeed getting softer...

For the record, this is about spear tackles/tip tackles/dump tackles in general.. I know there was no card or ban for this...

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xxxwookie May 31, 2012 10:26 am

To suggest that the scrum is well policed is actually madness and it's a subject of constant debate. The majority of injuries at scrum time would come from collapsed scrums which happens far too much, sometimes deliberately, often from being poorly set, but that's a separate discussion. The difference is of course that a "tip tackle" is much easier to see and define with video evidence.

The end of the day though - a red card is an automatic ban, but anything deemed worthy of a red card is automatically looked into by a disciplinary panel. In much the same way, any incident that could have been red or yellow that comes under law 10.4 (dangerous play) can be subsequently looked at and an appropriate ban given. i.e. if Manu did tip tackle and was not punished, he can be in much the same way that gougers and punchers can be. Often it works out better for you if you're caught on the pitch.

There are limited numbers of injuries from spears because they're illegal and people try to avoid it. This is still a gentleman's sport and the point is that you're never trying to injure your opponent and to instill that, you are responsible for making a safe (as possible) tackle and putting the man down. There is a huge chance of being injured in a spear tackle though, same as I've seen many people injured when dragged down in the lineout

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Pretzel May 31, 2012 6:18 pm

I was actually referring to the other aspects of the game, I know the scrums are a shambles.. I have yet to hear of a player injured from a spear tackle... I understand that for every 1 spear tackle there are probably a million "normal" tackles, therefore to compare the stats, they cannot really be shown like for like, (if that makes sense)... However out of ALL these horrific spear tackles, why have we not heard of any injuries? Are they just not well publicised or are they not occurring?

Correct, a red card is a ban, however what we have nowadays is MORE red cards, MORE yellow cards and even more bans... And more frequently we have seen yellow cards = bans... How can that be the case? If I do something so terrible in a match that they say I should miss 4 matches, then how can a referee possibly feel that it is worth only a 10 minute sit down... Again I understand that the panels assessing these things have hours to sit and watch, slow motion footage, many different angles etc.. but is it too much to expect some sort of consistency, i.e. red cards = bans, yellow cards = nothing more...

There should never be any intent to injure your opponent, however that is far from my point. Spear tackles, again I have no quarrels with the bans, or the cards.. by tip tackles, dump tackles, just general BIG tackles, being penalised in the way we have seen?

I personally think it's a travesty that THIS tackle in the video is worthy of a penalty!!!

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stroudos June 01, 2012 9:07 am

Pleased that you made the distinction between spear and dump/tip in your second post. I'm pretty sure people have been injured from spear tackles, but the old-fashioned dump tackle is relatively harmless. I define spear as deliberately driving the player downwards towards the ground.

Having said that, I remember not that many years ago team-mates (and I think commentators on TV?) commonly using the phrase "lifted him up and inserted him into the ground" and no-one had a problem with that, it was simply considered a good tackle.


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stroudos June 01, 2012 9:07 am

Pleased that you made the distinction between spear and dump/tip in your second post. I'm pretty sure people have been injured from spear tackles, but the old-fashioned dump tackle is relatively harmless. I define spear as deliberately driving the player downwards towards the ground.

Having said that, I remember not that many years ago team-mates (and I think commentators on TV?) commonly using the phrase "lifted him up and inserted him into the ground" and no-one had a problem with that, it was simply considered a good tackle.


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thamesrowingclub May 31, 2012 6:12 am

Well put Pretzel^. Was there any data that suggested catastrophic injuries being caused by dump tackles? I'm not sure. I think we're looking at the game like amateur players. The powers that be are looking at the game as a marketable family friendly product. All the stuff that scared Moms is being driven out of the game. Same thing with boots to players lying on the ball. There was no rash of injuries, it just looked bad on tv.

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stroudos June 01, 2012 9:31 am

Exactly.

I am happy to report though, that in the VERY amateur leagues I play in the time-honoured custom of raking studs down the back of a git who's deliberately killing the ball is alive and well...

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Pretzel June 03, 2012 12:03 pm

lucky for you, I got sin binned the last time I put a boot on a player, and it wasn't even THAT bad.... The guy would have rolled out in tatters if he'd lay where he was 5 years ago!!

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FullBackKaplan May 31, 2012 3:53 pm

I agree with the call.... not dangerous, well handled by the official Wayne Barnes, and don't think this warrants any further action. Just a note on Manu, thought he was pretty poor overall during the final as were the rest of the Tigers minus Ben Youngs and Geo Murphy. Expecting a lot more. quins deserving winners and hopefully, Manu can play better during the upcoming tour to SA.....

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stroudos June 01, 2012 9:23 am

I hate to be the one to bring up the BOD-Umaga-Mealamu incident (given the tendency for discussions to suddenly disintegrate), but I think it's true to say that that incident was a major factor - in fact the main catalyst - for the change in tackle laws. Completely illogical of course, because that was not a tackle, it was a clearing-out at a ruck. Whatever your opinion of the legality of Umaga and Mealamu's actions that day, it was clearly not a tip tackle, dump tackle, or even a spear tackle. So the IRB basically missed the target completely and clamped down on a non-existent problem.

Describing that ruck-clearout-gone-wrong as a spear tackle is the reason rugby fans have to put up with all this frustrating BS around the tackle area now.

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Brian Tompkins June 01, 2012 12:27 pm

If you actualy watch the video you will notice that it was infact Care that put his arm out to prevent his head/sholders being driven into the ground first. Now can any of you please explain how this is not a ban. Had Care not been quick and smart enough to brace himself and put out his arm then it would have been a textbook case of a spear tackle. Tuilagi did not put him down safely and he should be banned!

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Pretzel June 01, 2012 1:58 pm

I believe Tuilagi's lawyers put forward that Care's foot or knee or something hit the ground before Care's upper body (not including the arm)...

In this day and age I am surprised players are still tackling in such a fashion given that it is now such a risky technique with regards to bans/cards...

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Wise guy June 01, 2012 4:04 pm

Tuilagi is never going to be cited for that. He's the best player in the England squad and therefore untouchable, the RFU is under too much pressure and therefore can not cite him, he can get away with anything. (like the boat "incident" during the world cup, or the punching up of Ashton which should have had heavier consequences)

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Wise guy June 01, 2012 4:07 pm

By cited I mean banned, sorry!

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Colombes June 01, 2012 4:16 pm

Tuilagi would have never been banned for that
as the RFU never sanction the internationals before England matchs (CQFD: Hartley soft 8 weeks ban)
as the tip tackle didn't provocate injury (thanks to Care movement)
as the refs still can't harmonize a coherent and strict sanction on these tip tackles. from barnes laissez-faire to Rolland direct calls, another world...

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stroudos June 02, 2012 9:35 am

Colombes, this has already been covered further up the page mate:

xxxwookie May 30, 2012 2:39 pm
Hartley got an 8 week ban based on no evidence. I'm far from saying he didn't do it, but it sounded rather a lot like conjecture. Someone said he did it so it happened. More to the point, he wasn't banned by the RFU and if you're implying that everyone wants to make England happy, you're on the very wrong path.

I think you may remember a year ago, Manu was expected to compete in the Churchill cup in the hope that he may gain the experience necessary for an England world cup campaign. In spite of this, the RFU banned him for a punch which led to him not playing for the Saxons.>

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Aonghus June 06, 2012 9:57 am

Wayne Barnes is easily the worst ref in rugby. he makes every game all about him. he has to send at least one person to the bin every game and makes unnecessary calls all the time. personally i think this was nothing. but im from the southern hemisphere and our judging of a bad tackle is a lot more lenient than up north.

But my point is that Wayne Barnes should not be a referee as he is always robbing a team when he is the ref because he only cares about himself. i vote that he gets kicked out of doing big games.

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