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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Malakai Fekitoa smashes Conrad Smith with huge tackle

Round six of Super Rugby produced some great tries, as seen in yesterday's Best Tries of the round video, but there were also some big tackles, and none better than this in the Highlanders vs Hurricanes clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Conrad Smith recently notched up 100 games of Super Rugby, but it's not getting any easier for the 32-year-old All Black, who was on the wrong end of this crunching tackle by Malakai Fekitoa.

Beauden Barrett, who finished off a great try in the game, flung a hospital pass to skipper Smith, which Fekitoa read well and took full advantage of. Crunch.

Some may say he took him in the air, and came close to lifting him illegally, but all in all it was a thumping hit and one that Smith won't forget about in a hurry. He surely had words with Barrett.

The tackle helped to create the momentum that led to two Highlanders tries, to Phil Burleigh and Patrick Osborne, which effectively sealed the 35-31 Dunedin win.

As it's bound to come up, do you think the tackle was 100% legal, or should have been penalised?

Posted by Rugbydump at 10:36 am | View Comments (25)

The Best Tries scored in Round 6 of Super Rugby 2014

The Hurricanes' Conrad Smith making sure we know

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 25 comments

Guest March 26, 2014 12:21 pm

Clearly took him in the air but kind of tried to set him down after. Great tackle though.

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proptank March 26, 2014 12:24 pm

Great tackle, nothing wrong with it at all.

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Rugby Lover 10 March 26, 2014 12:37 pm

What a TERRIBLE pass by Beauden Barrett, but great tackle indeed !!!

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finedisregard March 26, 2014 12:43 pm

Hospital pass to the max! Did Conrad Smith owe Barrett money or something?

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stroudos March 27, 2014 7:59 am

"The kind of pass you'd give someone who'd taken your last Rolo", as Mark Robson once said.

A piss poor pass definitely, however I'm not sure it's actually as bad as it looks - did you see the distance Mother Fucker Toa covered to make that tackle? Beautifully timed run it has to be said.

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DanKnapp March 26, 2014 1:00 pm

Nothing wrong with that hit, great one. He was daft to start raising his legs though, you're just asking for trouble if you do that. This is a good example of how a hard legal hit can start to change into a hard illegal one. It wasn't illegal, before I get replies to that extent, but tacklers should do everything they can to avoid getting themselves into trouble by avoiding lifting a guy's legs.

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stroudos March 27, 2014 7:56 am

Spot on mate.

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Eddie-g March 26, 2014 1:52 pm

Great tackle. I don't think there's any real intention of lifting either, it's a big initial hit and then the driving back of Conrad Smith, who was in the air already, which causes him to start falling toward the horizontal. And there's no intent it seems to drive Smith into the deck, which can be the other thing which gets tacklers into strife.

That said, knowing how such things are reffed these days, Smith could have made a meal of this and got the tackler into trouble. Good for him that he didn't. Basically, I'm glad this wasn't penalised, seen tackles like this harshly penalised in the past.

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somo March 26, 2014 3:20 pm

nothing conrad could do about that.. great player, and i hate him for it #wallabies yeyeahh!!

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pipots March 26, 2014 5:39 pm

Law 10.4(j) reads: 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.

So I think this tackle can be described as dangerous according to that law? I'm not saying I'm in favor of this law, but objectively we have a lift, we have a drive with feet off the ground and we have a player driven to ground upper body first.

I don't think this is a dangerous tackle. For me the problem with this law, is the "upper body". What do you understand by upper body? waist up? chest up?
For me dangerous should be clearly stated as head or shoulders. Upper body leads to confusion. This tackle is close to Ioanes yellow card last year, but IMHO both are hard tackles, where the tackled player lands on his side or back, not near shoulder or head, you could argue "more or less" lift, but how the player lands on the floor is key to define how dangerous is the tackle.

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Josef March 26, 2014 6:30 pm

Well, technically he did not lift player from the ground - he was in the air in that moment already. So Card for Smith for dangerous play - jumping into the tackle!

(Just trolling. :])

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10stonenumber10 March 26, 2014 9:18 pm

It is the very act of wrapping his arms that caused Conrad's legs to rotate, as well as him curling up into the foetal position around Fekitoa's shoulder... just as any man would when hit with that kind of force.

Ridiculous hit, where the attackers legs overtook their body. This is rugby, Mr. Smith knew it, so let's stop fannying about the legality of it.

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DanKnapp March 27, 2014 10:23 am

You don't think it's the presence of his arm on the guy's legs at all then? I mean, if you care to look at the picture before the video starts, it's right there! I don't think this hit was illegal, but he should be careful.

There is no need to lift a guy's legs up, it's adrenalin, but professional athletes should be concerned about getting themselves in trouble. Bit, legal hits without even a whiff of lifting/tipping are the way forward.

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DrG March 27, 2014 6:15 pm

The problem is, 'fannying about with the legality' is exactly what referee's, the IRB and everyone else is concerned with. 'fannying about' is exactly why one week this tackle could be met with praise and the next met with a penalty/yellow/red...

So whilst I think we can all agree that it is a shame we have to debate the legality (even if we still all agree it is legal) we still are all in the clouds when it comes to knowing exactly what we can and can't do...

If we go by picture alone just above it doesn't look too good, upper-upper body coming into contact with the ground, tackler still having hold of players legs etc etc, so I honestly think that if this happens next week, it could very easily be classed as a penalty by another referee..

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10stonenumber10 March 27, 2014 9:57 pm

I see it from experience. When you hit, you wrap your arms and squeeze as tight as you can and grip whatever to get hold of them. The rotation is caused by Conrad Smith himself rotating a little in the tackle both horizontally and vertically. I'd bet £50 on a solid hit that you do not fall straight to the floor pivoting from your feet, they always lift and form an arc with the momentum backwards (if you go backwards). Stand a box of cereal up, and jab it across the logo 2/3rds of the way up (ribs/chest height), with enough force, it goes crashing into the table with the rear leading edge first (back of the shoulders).

He wasn't scooped up and dropped, he was hit solidly diagonally upwards, as you should when you hit someone, to remove the leg drive and take them off balance. Point of Impact to point of landing wasn't that great a distance, both at pace... You could recreate this 1,000 times in a laboratory.

True the IRB and refs need to look at this stuff closely. Keep players safe. But in the run of play, the players involved, and the reactions from both, it was a perfectly legal hit executed with extreme force by a much bigger player on one of the more normal sized players in the tournament.

It is like a slow motion capture of a boxing match. On the right frame, even a shot that glances off you will still make your face look like it has been through a meat grinder, a la Jeremy Clarkson in the Ariel Atom, or a Bulldog shaking water off itself, but it doesn't even leave a scratch.

How many referees do you think watch videos on blogs like this, and make decisions accordingly? I'm sure they get to review their decisions after the game, but this is the public's reaction... hopefully a more realistic reaction!

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DrG March 28, 2014 12:29 pm

Is there a line which one can cross turning a perfectly legal tackle into an illegal one just by a finishing move?

For instance I agree with you entirely up until possibly the last point of the tackle where Fekitoa appears to be driving Smith into the ground - upper body first.. *Of course, don't get me wrong, I view this tackle as completely legal*

Soi the tackle up to that point is legal, but then (think of the children) surely driving a player who is now NEARLY (the agony) head first into the ground is 'illegal'... ?

I get your slow motion/boxing analogy, but that is slightly different.. 'looking' like you just got rattle with a punch making your face wobble is a bit different to a slow motion of a hit where you DID just get rattled (or at least his teeth might of a little) :D

Of course I don't suspect the referee's think 'right I have a big game coming up, I'll go watch RD and see if I can get some tips on good and bad decisions' but they will have video analysis and 'homework' so that they can review a relatively not-so-good decision (referees are always right...) that they make and adjust their style accordingly, so what I am getting at is:
1. The laws are words which define the legalities of the game.
2. Words have to be interpreted.
3. Interpretations can vary from one person to the next.
4. This tackle was interpreted as legal by one referee.
5. I guarantee something very similar has in the past, and will in the future, result in an outcry on here and a penalty or more on the pitch..

But for now, I'm glad we're all on the same page in thinking this was a fantastic tackle...and a HIDEOUS pass!

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DanKnapp March 30, 2014 7:03 am

My friend and I tried 'recreating this 1,000 times in a laboratory.' The scientists went absolutely mental. Apparently this isn't the sort of testing rabbits are bred for.

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Schultz March 26, 2014 10:13 pm

If the law stated something allong the lines of ".....the shoulders and above canot come into contact witht he ground before the waist" it was make things far clearer.

For this tackle, it was a great one, the legs coming up were more a reaction to Smith being driven back and his body moving slower than his legs, rather than him being lifted by Fekitoa.

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DrG March 26, 2014 10:58 pm

Ok, firstly I am fine with this sort of tackle, no quarrels, but I am regularly called out by many on here when I looked at a red card, or yellow card tackle and state how I feel it was a yellow at most/penalty etc...

Looks to me like he pulls Smiths legs upwards (which imo is still lifting) in order to make Smith hit the deck, but Smith hits the ground upper body first.. and then it looks like he drives him into the ground.. I just don't understand how this cannot be viewed as somehow dangerous by many of the regular commenter's...

I can see it now, Fekitoa gets a yellow for this tackle, I come on and mention how it wasn't THAT bad and I've seen worse given for less and I get the usual 'Smith could have died', 'worse for less isn't a valid excuse' kind of reactions...

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DanKnapp March 27, 2014 10:28 am

I know we stand on different sides of this debate usually, but I think this is an example of a legal hit. No problems with the lack of penalty - there is nothing to penalise - but had he lifted him a little higher and tipped him back a little further, and it might have been a different outcome.

It is a question of where the line is, and I know we don't agree on that, but we can both agree this is legal.

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DrG March 27, 2014 6:10 pm

Lol. Would you say this is completely legal, or 'just legal' (like just within the line of legal..)

I think think, I see his upper-upper body hit the ground first, legs are still in the air, and he gets driven back/into the ground with the tackler still holding his legs.. I think if one were to describe using those sorts of words people would think 'tip tackle' or 'spear tackle'.. and really it is the words in the Laws that define these tackles..

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DanKnapp March 30, 2014 7:06 am

I think this is completely legal. My only criticism of his tackling action is grabbing the guys legs and starting to lift slightly. I don't think he has come too close to making it illegal, but my original post was about the wisdom of such a tackling action. Best to keep it as legal as possible, do whatever you can to make it hard for the referee to ping you.

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Badge March 27, 2014 4:24 am

That pass was harder to watch than the tackle was on Smith.

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The guvnor March 29, 2014 1:40 am

exactly, floaty rubbish pass that put him in the air to catch the ball, left him blind sided, took his time away and meant he had no chance to dictate contact...happy days

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Tjw June 06, 2014 9:26 pm

Dan, tackle was illegal as the player was in the air you muppet

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