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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Vincent Clerc late hit results in Julien Saubade injured for rest of season

Racing Metro's injury crisis got worse this week with the news that wing Julien Saubade has been ruled out for the rest of the season after having twisted both his left knee an ankle. To add insult to injury, it happened in a late tackle on the final whistle.

Toulouse beat Racing Metro 32-13 in their Top 14 game a week ago, and as the Paris based side went in search of a consolation try, Saubade was hit into touch by Clerc, without the ball.

Unfortunately the impact of the blow was felt in the left leg and ankle of Saubade, which he twisted, as well as rupturing cruciate ligaments in his knee.

The 29 year old could be out for up to eight months following the horrible injury, while France international Clerc will be playing against the Wallabies at the Stade de France this weekend.

To his credit, he was seen attending to and apologising to Saubade after the game, and made an effort to console him as he was carried off on a stretcher.

Saubade is the seventh Racing Metro playing to be ruled out for a long period, a list which includes fullback Benjamin Dambielle and fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski, who are both in lengthy layoffs for ruptured cruciate ligaments and a herniated disc respectively. 

Should Clerc have been punished for this, or is it just an unfortunate part of rugby?


Posted by Rugbydump at 5:34 pm | View Comments (54)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 54 comments

Kcanniffe November 08, 2012 7:53 pm

He didn't have the ball & Clerc made no attempt to pull out of the challenge. Clerc should get a 2 game ban - I know rugby is a physical sport, that's why I love it. But this challenge was not in keeping with the spirit of the game.

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thegaffer89 November 08, 2012 7:54 pm

God that is a horrible injury. Really dirty late hit that Clerc should have yellow carded for. Fair play to him for apologising and checking on Saubade though.

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Froliks November 08, 2012 7:55 pm

Clearly late - ball clearly gone - cheap shot - idiot - ban.

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Owen November 08, 2012 7:59 pm

absolutely awful tackle by vincent clerc should definitely be receiving a ban for this

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cometjoy November 08, 2012 7:59 pm

Not only was the hit off the ball, but he didn't seem to wrap and it looks like a straight-arm tackle as well. He may have apologised and consoled Saubade but it's definitely still a case for citing!

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Ottawa Rugger November 08, 2012 8:01 pm

Clerc can be a magician at times, but that was late and off the ball. He should have been able to see Saubade drop the ball (on a play that would not have affected the outcome in neither win/lose nor bonus points). The fact that he was a gentleman about it after the fact is heartening, but it by no means excuses it. I'd say a ban is warranted.

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SCHULL KRUSHER November 08, 2012 8:01 pm

Froliks said it best, Cheap, late, ban.

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yupyupgup November 08, 2012 8:02 pm

if they were to punish him, realistically it'd only be an off-field yellow.

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mskomu November 08, 2012 8:07 pm

Clearly a late hit. If he had wrapped his arms around it might have been in the gray area of rules. But a late and illegal tackle... that's deliberate.

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stroudos November 08, 2012 8:08 pm

What a fucking idiot.

BTW nothing wrong with Clerc's attempt to grasp the player. It's the lateness and of it that's the problem - had Saubade still had the ball no doubt he'd have been braced for the impact and I honestly expect he wouldn't have been hurt.

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JL November 08, 2012 8:13 pm

There was no reason for that hit. It was clear he didn't have the ball. Ban, for sure.

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Juggernauter November 08, 2012 8:24 pm

Very late and very unnecessary... Most times I'm fully against banning players, but these is just ridiculous. Although if Saubade hadn't been injured no further action would be taken whatsoever.

Which brings us to the old discussion once again: Should we judge foul play for the action itself or for the consequences it carries?

I say give him 2 weeks withouth playing so that he understands that he can't do that. Experienced player shoulda known better.

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Chris November 08, 2012 8:25 pm

Clerc just went in for a glory shot...Off field yellow I'd say is realistic. I doubt he'll get much more as the knee injury is just pure bad luck. I feel for Saubade, but I don't think the hit warrants a ban. The extent of an injury does not determine a ban. If he wouldn't ahve been injured, no one would be saying anything and this would have never made its' way onto rugby dump. This type of stuff should be cracked down on, but I don't see a ban anywhere on the Horizon for Clerc.

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browner November 08, 2012 8:29 pm

There is no doubt Clerc knew where the ball was, 100% a Cheap shot - Ban coming, injury wasn't forseen but the player had clearly relaxed, which is why the injury happened.

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Gonzoman November 08, 2012 8:36 pm

I agree that the hit was late (and stupid...the ball was clearly gone), but you can't automatically ban a player because someone got injured, especially when the injury was the result of a freak combination of timing and distribution of weight.

If the same tackle had happened during the game, and Saubade had to be treated on-field but continued to play this incident would have been a yellow card at most. Same goes for a post-match citing: off-field yellow sounds about right.

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Gonzoman November 08, 2012 8:45 pm

Hmm...I wasn't particularly clear in that last post.

The reason you should not use severity of injury as a yardstick for whether to award a ban or not is actually fairly simple if you approach it backwards: would you avoid banning a player because his action didn't result in injury?

Consider this example: player X shoves his thumb into player Y's eye socket. Fortunately, player Y doesn't sustain any damage beyond temporary eye-watering and mild discomfort. Since there wasn't an injury, does that mean that player X shouldn't be banned? Absolutely not! An eye-gouge is an eye-gouge, no matter the result and deserves a lengthy ban.

Cut back to this case: sure, Saubade suffered a serious and season-ending injury...unfortunate and regrettable. The offence is still a late tackle...the fact that it was a late tackle on a player in a defenceless position should be considered, but not whether or not the player was actually injured, and much less the severity of the injury.

If you penalize the injury and not the offence, things get really messy.

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stroudos November 08, 2012 10:16 pm

Well the thing is I really don't think saubade would have been injured if he'd been carrying the ball during the tackle. If you're expecting a tackle you instinctively brace your body and position it in a way that will absorb the impact.

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Sankeor November 09, 2012 1:20 am

You don't get it.
What Gonzoman and Juggernauter explained is that you don't have to take in account injuries in these cases (and I agree with them).
Wether the player results injured or not is not relevant, only the mere action should be taken in account : late tackle.
So let's just imagine Saubade was 100% fine, would you still think Clerc deserves a ban ? (I don't)

Moreover, this kind of injury is tricky, in given conditions any tackle from the side could induce it.

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stroudos November 09, 2012 11:13 am

No no, I do get it. And I agree with all three of you.

Let me see if I can put my point more clearly. The question is a hypothetical what-if. In reality I don't think Clerc could have made that tackle without injuring the player, so the hypothetical question is redundant.

And the reason is that it was so late that Saubade was already relaxed and not anticipating a tackle - if you drop the ball and then take another four steps you can be forgiven for not readying yourself for impact, especially if there are 80+ minutes on the clock.

It's a bit like if you jump off a high wall, when your feet touch the ground you'll then bend your knees and absorb the impact - if you're into parkour you might even do a little roll to further disperse the impact. If you fall off the same wall unexpectedly, you'll almost definitely hurt yourself because your body's just not prepared for it.

What I'm trying to say is that in this case, there is no need for a "what if" scenario; the tackle was almost guaranteed to cause an injury.

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Pretzel November 09, 2012 7:28 pm

I disagree Stroudos...

I totally agree that whilst carrying the ball you are generally more prepared to be hit...

However I have been tackled whilst being unaware of the impending tackle (not having the ball and running a lazy dummy line sort of does that), it stunned/hurt/surprised me, but I was not injured (not unless you include an "ooooooochh, I'm winded" sort of reaction as an injury). So I somewhat disagree with your comment: "In reality I don't think Clerc could have made that tackle without injuring the player"...

Clerc may have been trying to clatter an opposition player who had caused him some trouble earlier in the game and this was a "revenge" big hit, but this tackle could have easily ended in a "salaud, je ne m'attendais pas à ce que!" with a bit of a scuffle, rather than an injury...

I have put in hits with the intent to hurt an opposition player, I never intended to rule them out of games the following weeks, but I intended on hurting them either to make them think twice about running near me, or to put them out of the game at hand, or as just revenge, or unjust revenge like the following story:

I was caught in a two on one situation (me being the ONE!), I knew I was trapped, so I made a decision to clatter the ball carrier (regardless of whether he had the ball or just passed it, I knew I was NOT pulling out), in order to get some sort of personal satisfaction/retribution out of their try scoring situation, needless to say, he passed the ball leaving his torso open and I hit him as hard as I could square in the stomach/chest area, he was winded and eventually left the field nursing his ribs...

Now if I had actually caused some significant damage causing him to be stretchered off by paramedics, I'd have felt pretty bad about it, all I wanted to do was "temporarily hurt him", for the next few hours, or for the day, not really injure him...

I shook his hand at the end, said sorry about the hit, and had a beer with him..

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stroudos November 09, 2012 7:45 pm

Always the best way to defend 2-on-1. The odds are stacked against you, better tackle one of the bastards than not at all.

And I will concede that I always start a game with the old mantra in my head: "Just get your first tackle in early, even if it's late".

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Pretzel November 10, 2012 12:42 am

Lmao, I like it! Definitely a good strategy....

Yeh, that two on one situation was a bit sad, nothing I could do really no way of intercepting... I just remember my old school coach always saying "just hit the first man, that way at least you won't fall for a dummy".. so I blame him... lol...

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Oey November 08, 2012 9:27 pm

late hit.... needs punished.

Similar style of tackle injury that ended David Wallace's career by Manu T. in the world cup warm ups

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stroudos November 08, 2012 9:55 pm

No, it's not at all similar to Manu's tackle on Wallace. Wallace had the ball in both hands. BIG difference. You could argue Tuilagi didn't need to smash him as hard as he did but, as unfortunate as Wallace's injury was, the tackle was perfectly legitimate.

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Oey November 08, 2012 11:54 pm

I mean the tackle injury. (Manu's was a legal tackle) the injury that Wallace and now Saubade are suffering is tough to return from when you are hit hard in your striding leg. Your weight plus tackle and momentum through one knee never good.

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stroudos November 09, 2012 10:25 am

Similar injury, yes.

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Skid986 November 08, 2012 9:55 pm

Deliberate illegal challenge designed to maliciously injure. He should be banned for twice as long as the injury keeps the victim out of the game.

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Pretzel November 08, 2012 9:59 pm

I sort of agree with Gonzoman here... although it was late, unnecessary, cheap all the other nasty things we can think about, it still was only a "late hit" (not tackle) and so what? If this had not resulted in an injury we'd all think "well yellow card at most? penalty..." so the fact this does result in an injury should not carry any extra weight...

I think an off-field yellow is all that should realistically come of this...

Also I'd like to see the hit in full speed, it looks long, long after the ball has gone in slow motion, but will it look a little more forgiving at full speed?

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rugby007 November 08, 2012 10:09 pm

Red card with suspension. The resulting injury is immaterial to the event: tackle well off the ball--4 steps out--with clear intent to deliver a blow due to the swinging arm.

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D-Matt November 08, 2012 10:32 pm


We can see on this video that it goes really fast, and I don't think Vincent Clerc made this on purpose.

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Pretzel November 08, 2012 10:48 pm

I'd agree with you there, I don't think it was on purpose, I have been harping on about tackler has duty of care etc with Haskell on Hargreaves so the same applies here, it was Clerc who has to carry the can as such, however I don't think it was more "reckless" than anything else... no way this could ever be more than a yellow in play therefore I have to say a yellow or off field is all that could/should be issued...

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dema November 08, 2012 11:30 pm

No, from this video you can actually see the maliciousness of the hit: ball knocked into touch, Saubade makes at least four more steps without the ball and then comes the reckless hit. At *least* a yellow.

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okis November 08, 2012 11:24 pm

ban ze bastard!!

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spinpass9 November 08, 2012 11:58 pm

Crucify him. It was late, cheap, blatant, and dirty, AND stopped a player from plying his trade for 8 months. Clerc MILKED Warburton's tackle for all it was worth, and that got red for a non-maliscious tackle...and cost Wales a World Cup Final. Ban. You can be physical and still play within the laws of the game.

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Sankeor November 09, 2012 1:08 am

Sour grape ! One year later and still in the denial... Stop lying to yourself, and stop soiling the name of such a player, Clerc is a legend of skill and humility in the world of rugby, not the cocky and malicious kind.
Fortunately the decision is still to competent authorities to be taken... not welsh haters... lol

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spinpass9 November 09, 2012 1:15 am

how ironic...now the shoe is on the other foot. I remember hearing similar things being said by Welshmen after Clerc put in his Oscar performance...Warburton's not dirty etc. However the letter of the law is the letter of the law and Sam got red, and accepted it humbly. Regardless of Clerc's previous good behavior, this was cheap and should be punished by the competent authorities

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Sankeor November 09, 2012 1:23 am

So we both agree, amazing.

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Colombes November 09, 2012 2:07 am

How dare u...
milked? i guess u should be tip-tackled and fall on ur cervicals to feel how it is.
Warburton accepted the sanction cause he knew it was deserved. if Clerc is sanctionned for this tackle (it depends of the ligue decisions) he will also accept it with reason as he knew he has injured a fellow rugby player.

Stop trolling and move on, would u?

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Poliuez November 09, 2012 12:25 am

if Saubade scored, Toulouse would have lost the bonus point. In France, in order to get the bonus point, you need to score three tries more than the opposite team. But it is still an ugly play, even though i'm not sure it is worth citing.

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WelshOsprey November 09, 2012 1:06 am

Always thought clerc was a pretty good guy on the pitch, this looks cheap and dirty though

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Colombes November 09, 2012 2:02 am

Like many i had heard that Saubade was badly injured during the last top14 round, but i didn't know the circumstances, i just discover now.

Quite astonished to see this type of action by Clerc who is quite a very nice guy on a pitch (i can't even remember the last time he had a yellow...) but this charge was dangerous and should deserve a van for the example (don't know if there were complaints)
But i don't think Clerc wanted to injure Saubade, he wanted to put a last match hit, but this one was a bad one, with terrible consequences

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stroudos November 09, 2012 10:24 am

Definitely seems out of character for Clerc.

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Brandon November 09, 2012 10:59 am

The tackled player takes 4 steps after the ball is dropped before he his hit. I have seen yellow given out when a player passes the ball and gets about half a step in before being tackled, so this should be a red card. 4 steps, clearly doesn't have the ball needs to be banned whether the player was injured or not.

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nickhandson November 09, 2012 12:32 pm

Cheap shot with an intent to hurt the player.Throw the book and library at him!!!

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Morgs November 09, 2012 1:13 pm

8 month lay off?? i ruptured my mcl+acl and that was 18 months ago! playing my first game since the injury on the 24th!

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Jimmynee November 09, 2012 1:57 pm

You have to wonder what was going through Vincent Clerc's head. His team had secured the victory, Saubade had clearly lost possession, and Clerc could have avoided the challenge. Injury is an unfortunate part of rugby, but Clerc's senseless action should never be considered part of the game. A rare lapse of judgement by a good player, but it's a stupid challenge made shocking by it's consequences.

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flanker2712 November 09, 2012 2:21 pm

Watching the RD video, I couldn't believe how late it seemed. However, watching the video in the link posted by D-Matt, I am not 100% sure Clerc knew the ball had been spilled into touch. His line of sight to the ball may have been obstructed by his team mate and the opponent, possibly to the extent where he thought the opponent still had the ball in hand. By the time he could have had a clear line of sight to the ball, he is focussing on tackling the player and the bouncing ball may be out of his field of vision. His "swinging arm" I think is a misguided attempt to dislodge the ball from the opponents arm.

Anyone know if Clerc himself said anything in his defence?

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luke9cullen November 09, 2012 4:46 pm

If Clerc were to do that 'purposely' it shouldn't be a ban in my opinion, the only reason some people think he should get a ban because of the injury, yes it was a nasty tackle, if Saubade were to still have the ball Clerc most likely would of put the same tackle in as he did anyway, its a matter of just having a word, it was good to see Clerc apologizing and also it looks like he knew what he did soon as he tackle him because of the way he looked after soon as he did the tackle

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Gonzoman November 09, 2012 5:04 pm

Having watched the full-speed video, I find myself agreeing with flanker2712...Clerc does exactly what he would have done if Saubade had caught the pass. There isn't even any hesitation on his part. I'm reasonably sure that anyone who sees a ball bouncing around on the deck has the first instinct of going for the ball, at least enough to cause a visible hesitation. There wasn't any; therefore I think Clerc honestly didn't see the ball dropped. his line of sight is obstructed, and Saubade looks like he's crouching to make sure he gets the ball over the line.

My previous opinion stands, more or less: it's definitely a penalty, because a late hit is a late hit, whether the tackler knows it's late or not. I do now think that you could make the argument that a yellow is a wee bit harsh...he does grasp Saubade during the hit, and really if that hit wasn't late then it wouldn't have been penalized.

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Gerhard November 09, 2012 7:43 pm

Clearly a late hit. Should be banned for at least two weeks.

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Pretzel November 10, 2012 12:43 am

Banned for what? A late hit? Don't be daft...

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Pretzel November 10, 2012 12:44 am

Just to add to my comment, I spent the majority of my first season as a 7 putting in those "oops I was committed" late tackles on the opposition fly half... I don't think I'd have played much rugby at all if there were 2 week bans for every late tackle...

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Jimmynee November 09, 2012 8:27 pm

Having watched the video from D-Matt I think there's a plausible case that Clerc's line of vision was blocked and he didn't know that the ball had been spilt.

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Pez November 27, 2012 10:59 pm

I think honestly he went in knowing the ball had been dropped and swung his arm with intent to smash him into touch and to cause pain, not injury, just pain.

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