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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alesana Tuilagi straight red card for high tackle on Jean de Villiers

Samoan winger Alesana Tuilagi has been suspended for two weeks for the dangerous high tackle that he made on Springbok Jean de Villiers in the final of the Quad Series in Pretoria on Saturday. The Springboks won the game 56-23.

As always when these two sides meet, the game was physically brutal as both teams smashed one another at every opportunity throught the eighty minutes at Loftus Versveld.

At times things overstepped the mark though, as a few incidents were referred to the TMO for foul play, and shortly after one of the worst - a testicle grab by James So'oialo - Tuilagi flew into De Villiers with a stiffarm tackle that made contact with the Bok centres face.

De Villiers showed his class as he handled things well, and if anything he did Tuilagi a favour by hopping back up and not feigning injury. The officials had their own view though.

Tuilagi, who earlier made a few legal big hits, was shown a straight red card and later cited.

Today a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of foul play, and suspended him for two weeks. The NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) player is free to play again on 15 July.

Below is a look at the tackle, and we'll have other incidents and match highlights soon.

Do you agree with the straight red card decision?

Posted by Rugbydump at 4:44 pm | View Comments (60)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 60 comments

DanKnapp June 23, 2013 8:52 pm

Jean de Villiers, take a bow and about fifty man points. High shot from Tuilagi, gets up pretty much immediately, and then *footballers take note* just grins, gives a shake of the head, doesn't flare up, and even goes so far as to hold his hand out for the shake.

Took it like an absolute champ. This is why the Boks will always be my second team.

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dave June 24, 2013 6:03 pm

de villiers can't help it, he's brain dead from getting smashed in the face so much

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DanKnapp June 25, 2013 7:18 pm

To be honest, with balls that big, it's amazing he's still able to run around the pitch.

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hedderball June 25, 2013 11:30 pm

Dan - totally agree on the man points but wouldn't ever go so far as to say that this would make the Boks even my 5th favourite team. You see the thing with JDV is that he spent two seasons down in Munster where I'm sure the likes of Gaillimh, Foley and POC would have put manners on him

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DanKnapp June 26, 2013 5:30 pm

I just always like watching them play. I've always loved the attitude the side plays with, their physicality, and everything else. They generally seem to play really hard, but leave everything on the pitch, with no bitching and moaning afterwards.

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Juggernauter June 23, 2013 8:59 pm

Amazing stuff by De Villiers. Just amazing. Cool head and massive sportive attitude. Let the ref sort it out. Wow.

And Tuilagi - high, late off the ball, stiff arm to the neck with no attempt to wrap, very dangerous. Red and suspension seems right. And for those playing the "pacific islander ref bias" card - I agree there's a harsher treatment to them, but it's becasue repeated incidents like this one that Samoa, Fiji and Tonga have that ill fame. I hope Samoa can build on this massive good form they're showing and can keep to feature in the news for all the right reasons.

On a side note - It's very clear that Alesana enjoys his rugby haha. He always plays with a massive grin on his face. But this time it was just too much: player welfare must be always first priority in a game as brutal as rugby.


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matt June 23, 2013 9:25 pm

I thought at the time, and still do that a red was a bit harsh. The tackle is undoubtedly high, but I don't think it's late as Tuilagi is already launching forwards by the time the ball leaves DV, and if it had been lower it would have been a straight shot to the body with an outstretched arm, which is totally legal, it wasn't even swinging. So essentially, IMO, he has been sent off for a slightly high tackle, one that was certainly more reckless than cynical. But I could also forgive this because he has a reputation as a dangerous tackler and therefore should be punished more harshly than someone who has made a one off mistake. But I do think the ban is very harsh, it was just a big tackle that hit a little high.

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HeavyHooker June 24, 2013 4:09 am

Matt, "a little high"? This is a hit to the throat man. Give your head a shake if you think this was anything other than a red card. Tuilagi is a thug who is know for hits like this and a pitiful handshake afterwords just doesn't cut it.

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matt June 24, 2013 4:08 pm

I genuinely think this tackle is about 2 inches high and that's all that is wrong with it. And in my opinion that margin of unintentional error is not enough to warrant a red card. I think because JDV dropped the ball, Tuilagi's reputation and the noise of the home crowd Tuilagi got a bit of a raw deal here.

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JMehrtens June 25, 2013 3:41 pm

Higher and it wouldn't be illegal. Just a shot in the air.

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Dai July 14, 2013 10:10 pm

You have to wrap the arms. It's only not illegal in the pacific islands

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Hendogo June 23, 2013 9:10 pm

The best part of this is the look on Jean De Villiers face as he gets up.

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D0m3 June 23, 2013 9:24 pm

Indeed very nice reaction from Jean De Villiers, but I think Alesana Tuilagui is not fully commited in the tackled as he saw the ball bounce off. So red is a bit harsh and a suspension would be too much, imo.

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Shauno June 24, 2013 6:42 am

Not fully committed??? He wiped DV off his feet with the force of that tackle and he didn't even make any attempt to wrap his arms.
Got what he deserved

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Jamalamadingdong June 23, 2013 9:27 pm

Tuilagi is just a brute who throws his weight about on the pitch. He hardly understands the rules of the game and has little to no skill in terms of playing the game. He has no class and is a liability for any team. This tackle is another disgraceful challenge to be added to his long list.
I feel a larger suspension should be in place as well as a fine. No respect for a player like this.

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DrG June 23, 2013 10:09 pm

....does pretty well at Leicester though..

...or did(??!?!?)..

*dunno if he's still there, or their first pick...

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matt June 24, 2013 12:10 am

He moved on to Japan at the end of 2011/12 season.

And Jamalama, have you ever really watched him play? He is renowned for his clever use of his size and his work rate. The man is a beast, there is no doubting that, but he works himself hard to get around the place and does far more than smash. He is in the same physical category as Lesley Vainikolo and Banahan, but a totally different class.

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RugbyNutts June 24, 2013 11:06 pm

it is clear that you are a ignorant by no others words, if you had watched any other games than the 30 seconds of the clip you would know that Alesana is a player that the has ability to use his big frame to his brutal advantage. He also has speed to burn and unfortunately was not able to showcase it against south Africa. Let hope that he and Habana are still in the team by the time the 2015 comes around to we see a rematch.
As for the hit, i think a red was harsh a yellow would have been more appropriate. The tackle was high but it more of the upper shoulder rather than straight to the head. It was a stiff arm yes i agree with that, it was not late as he had already put his head down and was committed to the tackle. If he was truly hit high by Alesana i am afraid he would not be getting up so easily.

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DrG June 26, 2013 2:29 am

You do realise there is a part of the body between the upper shoulder and head...

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MattyJ June 23, 2013 9:56 pm

You can see the reaction from Tuilagi he doesn't think it's a big deal plays right on, doesn't even look at De Villiers. Apart from this though I thought Strauss' reaction to the ball pinching incident was hilarious him flailing around and 15 running away haha RUGBYDUMP put that up in the funnies!

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cheyanqui June 23, 2013 9:56 pm

I hear the "committed" vs not committed argument way too much to defend a guy throwing an illegal hit. not only by fans, but by on-air commentators.

it seems to me that more and more players liek Tuigali CHOOSE to "commit" way too early.

We know that good tackling form requires you to lower you head, but if you choose to lower your head, you should accept the consequences of not seeing what you end up doing.

See how Tuilagi's head goes down before the ball even arrives to JDV. It stays down whilst JDV has bobbled, it and says down when.

Straight red to Tuilagi looks right to me. and plejnty of credit to JDV for his reaction.

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DrG June 23, 2013 10:07 pm

Yeh, I'd sort of agree with that.

I have in the past (when playing openside) committed EARLY when knowing the 10 is going to pass/kick, just because I know I can get away with looking committed.

I, however disagree with this particular account of it, I think Tuilagi was anything BUT committed to performing a tackle on JDV. Pause at 2:06 it looks to me that Tuilagi has seen JDV has lost the I am well aware the guy is the same weight as an oil tanker but I'm pretty sure he has the ability to change direction far quicker than one! Roll the video on to about 2:09, JDV is hitting the deck, and Tuilagi is already looking away from him towards where the ball is... HE knew the ball was not going to be in JDV's grasp.

So I think he checked JDV, in a "don't run at me" sort of way..

It was just all wrong... I think red card SEEMS harsh because JDV hopped right back up, I think if JDV had to be stretchered off, everyone would say red card was fine.

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ruppansy June 24, 2013 8:33 pm

"red card SEEMS harsh because JDV hopped right back up" certainly may appear to be the case to some. For those who agree with that statement, the red card is designed to avoid players having to be stretchered off, so completely justified in this case IMO.

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DrG June 25, 2013 12:03 pm

The red doesn't bother me, I just feel that because JDV got right up, others probably feel it wasn't that bad...

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matt June 24, 2013 12:14 am

I sort of agree with both of you in principle, but I do think Tuilagi was in there legally if JDV caught the ball, and by the time he didn't it was too late. I get DrG's point about the times on the video, but you have to remember this is super slo mo and the reaction time alone is far longer than he had time for.

Plus, and it doesn't excuse the high shot at all, I sort of think that if you offer yourself as a dummy runner or get into a position to hold defenders then you should really expect to be hit.

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Conman June 24, 2013 6:41 pm

You don't lower your head and close your eyes, you lower your body/hips and keep your head looking up at the spot you want to hit.... (drive up) but maybe that's the reason so many players are getting concussed from putting their head in the wrong place!

Either way it's not an excuse for a high tackle

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CaNZ June 23, 2013 9:59 pm

I dont agree because he was aiming for the chest but De Villiers jumped for the ball and then tucked his body as he was coming down and Tuilagi had already commited and had his head down. I would say yellow and a warning.

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HeavyHooker June 24, 2013 4:16 am

JDV was not tucked. he was pretty much standing straight upright and so was Tui. This continual crap about crouching into the hit is crazy. Are you suggesting that runners should go in totally upright? Tui was high, he was reckless as usual, he did a blatant straight arm and as you see him run off the field, he doesn't give a crap he just made a stupid and dangerous play.

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ChrisHarrogate June 23, 2013 10:14 pm

I referee at National level in the UK and for me this is without doubt a straight red.

To the poster above who said that if it had been slightly lower it would have been totally legal - no it wouldn't, there was no attempt to wrap in the tackle, it was just a clothes line. It might not have been a red if it was lower but it would still have been a penalty +/- yellow card.

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matt June 24, 2013 4:10 pm

How can you referee at a national level and still think that he has to wrap his arms?

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ruppansy June 24, 2013 8:35 pm

What are you saying Matt, that a straight arm is legal? That is what is sounds like. Perhaps you need a course in rugby laws mate!

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HeavyHooker June 25, 2013 4:22 am

Ruppansy, I think Matt is just trolling the sight - if you read his other comments it is obvious.

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matt June 27, 2013 10:01 pm

Ha I actually do think that he was hard done by, but still wrong. What I meant was that there is a common belief you have to try and 'wrap your arms', which is simply not the case, the laws say that you have to make an attempt to grasp the player, which can be done with the other arm and be a perfectly legal tackle

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Benny June 23, 2013 10:40 pm

It was bad and I don't have a problem with a red as the team at least deserved one for all of their cr*p. But Basson only got yellow v Italy for a high tackle. Surely the refs could simplify things - high tackle = yellow, always.

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Sydney Subby June 23, 2013 11:34 pm

I think the red is fair enough as it was high and a shoulder charge, but I don't agree that it was late. High: some people are saying that JDV jumped and was coming down but that's no defence for a high shot as it's on the tackler to keep the tackle down. Shoulder charge: the islander nations constantly get away with shoulder charges because they put their arm out like that, with no intention of ever wrapping. Good referees pick it up for what it is, and that was definitely a shoulder charge as his arm stayed completely straight throughout. Late: if you watch the replay at full speed it's clear that Tuilagi was committed to the tackle. It's not as though JDV passes the ball and then gets hit, he attempts to catch the ball, misses it and then gets hit. By all rights, he should have caught it, Tuilagi expects him to catch it and therefore sets himself to tackle JDV.

Still a red though and I wouldn't mind a 2 week ban as he has a prior record.

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matt June 24, 2013 12:17 am

This 'wrapping' stuff if nonsense, it is not in the rules, and it is not the intention of the rules. What 'they' are doing is perfectly within the law and within the spirit of those laws.

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myles June 24, 2013 9:11 am

Actually it is. The definition of a tackle infers wrapping or grappling an opposition player. If a shoulder charge is illegal i.e. no arms used then by virtue of the difference between those, wrapping is in the rules and this tackle was illegal in many ways. Straight up red as was the ball handling incident.

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DrG June 24, 2013 12:11 pm

"attempt to wrap" is what I believe the laws mention...

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matt June 24, 2013 4:16 pm

Actually it isn't, there is not a single mention of wrapping arms, all the rules are supposed to do is stop tacklers from tucking their arms in and compacting there shoulder into an ungiving ram. By opening out their arms a player creates give in their body and prevents them launching into a player like a battering ram. That is what the rules are designed to do, and it is exactly what Tuilagi has done.

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vurps June 24, 2013 5:14 pm

Law 15 - Definitions - A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to the ground.

Law 10.4 (g) - Dangerous Charging. A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without trying to grasp that player

Now I'll concede that there is no explicit use of the word 'wrap' in the laws, and that the laws are open to interpretation and debate, but for me, the words 'held' and 'grasp' are synonymous with 'wrap' in this context.

There isn't a law that says word for word "You must (attempt to) wrap your arms in the tackle", but the definition of the tackle itself states that the ball carrier must be 'held' by a tackler. I may just be an unimaginative sod, but I don't know how one player can 'hold' another player without use of his arms in, say, a wrapping or grasping motion. ;)

Pedantic I know, but it is there in the law book. I'm also well aware that, under that strict definition, then a lot of the tackles that occur at the top end of the modern game may be considered illegal, and that is the point where a referee's judgement has to come in... The force Tuilagi went into that tackle with, even if he hit with the shoulder and a foot lower, would he have been able to 'hold' JdV before he smashed into the turf?

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DrG June 24, 2013 8:07 pm

Matt by your justification a player could go into a citing hearing and go down in flames by claiming he "wrapped" when he should indeed claim he "grasped" or "held"...

As Vurps has stated the laws don't appear to say what a player SHOULD do, more what a player SHOULD NOT do, and a player should not:
"knock down an opponent carrying the ball without trying to grasp that player"
Which I believe can be fairly translated into "must attempt to wrap"...

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matt June 27, 2013 10:04 pm

There is a difference between being required to grasp a player and attempting to wrap your arms though, grasping a player does not require the dominant arm to do very much, if anything, whereas 'wrapping' makes it seem like both arms have to be making the movement.

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DrG June 28, 2013 11:28 am

Not really, you can wrap with one arm... I think I see where you're coming from but I think we're all on the same page here..

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Bigwol June 24, 2013 12:25 am

Not late but high and worse a straight arm with no attempt to wrap. Tuilagi makes a habit of this sort of hit and every now and again gets pinged for it.
Respect to JDV for his reaction. Great example of how a rugby player should play the game and allow the ref to ref. No "card waving" to promote a punishment there. Coaches should play this clip to youngsters just for that.
Soccer players could learn something too!

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EatMyRugbyShorts June 24, 2013 1:25 am

To me the expression on JdV's face and semi-stunned reaction afterwards looks like one of 'F~~~ing hell I'm lucky - that could've taken my head off!'. He is one tough guy to get up from that.

Tuilagi has obviously made up his mind to put in a big physical hit regardless of the play and has gone too high. 6 inches lower and with more of an arm-wrapping action everyone would be saying brilliant, but a fraction late tackle - penalty at most. As it stands though can't argue with the red card.

Surely its a discipline problem - these incidents seem to happen when a game isn't going Samoa's way and the players get frustrated.

Continuing in the same vein hope there's a separate post on the Strauss testicle grab and subsequent citing as it looked anything but accidental to me - agreed though that the Samoa player running away was pretty funny.

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ruppansy June 24, 2013 8:37 pm

Ironically, 6 inches lower would have been 6 inches closer to the sternum, a legal tackle and JDV wouldn't be smiling and would possibly not have continued. Play hard and within the rules and it can be to your advantage.

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jimter10 June 24, 2013 10:13 am

That was an absolute peach. Not as dangerous as Horwill's filth, plus he did it in the open instead of sneakily risking a man's eyes but putting 18 stone through his studs into his face.

If he gets the same citing commissioner as Horwill or Schalk gouge Burger he'll have the red rescinded

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zac June 24, 2013 10:46 am

was it really that bad?? It looked to me as though he went for the massive hit and realised he had gone in to high and pulled out as much as a man of that size can. i think if he had gone through with the tackle and wrapped his arms as the comentators stated he would have seriously hurt de villiers

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Max June 24, 2013 11:49 am

No effort whatsoever to pay attention at what he is doing and to properly put JDV on the ground, except for the straight 20 cm diameter biceps straight in the neck.

No brainer, red card, you can cut the respiration of somebody like that if not worse.

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cheyanqui June 24, 2013 3:01 pm

exactly -- choosing to not pay attention to the ball, and instead choosing to put the head down and clean a guy out.

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jadawin June 24, 2013 2:00 pm

IMHO, the ridiculous hairstyle of Jean De Villiers doesn't deserve this kind of aggression.

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DrG June 24, 2013 8:09 pm

That is a ridiculous hairstyle??????

Looks like a fairly normal, 'grown' look to me...

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AndyBoy June 24, 2013 9:32 pm

That wasn't any attempt at a tackle, just a straight arm to the throat/neck. Straight red was right. De Villers reaction was priceless - a smile and a handshake after nearly having his head taken off. They must breed 'em tough out there!

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RugbyNutts June 24, 2013 11:13 pm

Did anyone else notice that the television match official Deon van Blommestein was South African, Tuilagi had not chance at all. OH an don't forget the South African commentators at their worst. I guess they really cant be too surprised with the Boks winning they did pay for everything for this tournament.

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OvalBall June 25, 2013 3:11 pm

Oh please, what does the TMO's nationality have to do with Tuilagi's high tackle? The debate on foul play is pointless. High, and extremely dangerous. Red card. Done and dusted.

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RugbyNutts July 09, 2013 8:51 am

you must be south African... my point eaxctly

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rugbyTilLIdie June 25, 2013 7:12 am

yellow yes, red way over the top. If rugby keeps judging these kinds of tackles as red cards Im afraid I might lose hope, this is just pure aggression and strength displayed by tuilagi will a little lack of concentration. every team needs a player like tuilagi, England were not able to beat us (All Blacks) in ten years and that's home and away but as soon as they recruited a young man by the name of manu tuilagi they broke a decade long drought and stopped us from achieving the most wins in a row by a international team, now maybe if teams such as Ireland, Scotland and Italy had a player like this and some luck they might be able to beat us just once....maybe

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Chris June 25, 2013 3:36 pm


I just saw your response to my post which clearly shows you don't know your way around the law book. I was going to direct you to Law 10.4 (g) - a player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without trying to grasp that player, but I see you've already had your attention drawn to it.

If you prefer I will rephrase from "no attempt to wrap" to "no attempt to grasp", but the principle is still the same:

(1) Tuilagi made no attempt to grasp and therefore, even without the head-high nature of the stiff arm, this was clearly foul play.
(2) If you think challenges like this one are exactly what the laws were designed to encourage, you really don't know what you're talking about, as it would appear that everyone else has already made clear to you.

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matt June 27, 2013 10:06 pm

I'm not defending this tackle particularly, but people keep laying into tackles because they 'made no attempt to wrap', and it is just not that simple, admittedly the rules do imply that you should do more than Tuilagi did to make a tackle 'safe', but just stating that someone didnt wrap their arms does not make it illegal.

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DrG June 28, 2013 11:49 am

But matt there was no attempt to grasp/wrap or anything, if he had put his left arm round and loosely grasped (or tried to grasp) JDV's top then he would have fulfilled the criteria of a wrap/grasp... I use the term wrap or grasp as imo in the tackle situation they both mean the same thing... no one means a tight hug...

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