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Tim Nanai-Williams and Samoa beat USA

Prop Reggie Goodes steamrolls back

The Samsung School of Rugby!

George Gregan's halfback Masterclass

All Blacks fined for waterboy Messam

Alesana Tuilagi crunches big winger!

Tuilagi brothers cause chaos vs USA

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salesi Ma'afu banned for one week for punch on Tom Youngs that went viral

Northampton Saints prop Salesi Ma'afu has received a one week ban for punching Tom Youngs in the Aviva Premiership Semi Final. You can view the incident below, as well as an animated gif and the viral Twitter interaction between the players on page two.

Former Wallabies prop Ma'afu was red carded for striking Youngs midway through the second half of Friday night's action packed 21-20 semi final win for Saints against Leicester Tigers. 

The two came to blows at the back of a rolling maul and after a bit of a slap to the side of the head and a few other exchanges, Ma'afu lost his cool and unleashed an almighty one-two combination that floored the England and British & Irish Lions hooker.

Referee JP Doyle handled the situation well and opted to yellow card Youngs, then red card the hard hitting prop, who was later cited and faced a disciplinary hearing earlier this evening.

After the game, Ma'afu tweeted Youngs: "The jersey can overcome us in the heat of battle. I owe you a pint. #respect," in response to Youngs wishing him well in the final (view that here).

Via teleconference Ma'afu pleaded guilty to a charge of striking an opponent contrary to Law 10.4.A.

He has been given a one week ban and ordered to pay £500 towards hearings costs. He is free to play again on May 26th, so will be available for the May 31st Aviva Premiership Final.

The tweets between the two players have gone viral this week, with thousands of retweets and plenty of news stories on various sports websites. View the tweets (and a great gif!) on page two of this post, and remember, what happens on the field stays on the field. 

Page: 12View All

Posted by Rugbydump at 7:11 pm | View Comments (48)

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 48 comments

karimabuseer May 20, 2014 8:16 pm

Love it, trust two front rowers haha! Agree with call, and pleased the pair have both put it behind them. Good to see the sportsmanship that separates our game from others is alive and kicking (punching?)!

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Eddie-g May 20, 2014 8:21 pm

I think the lesson, for professionals anyway, is not so much what happens on the field stays on the field, but rather man-up when stuff like this goes down.

Accept your actions have consequences, and bear no grudges against another man who's simply playing as hard as you are.

Which is exactly what both these lads did. Top attitude, and glad to see that the punishment here is not going to result in Ma'afu missing the final.

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WelshOsprey May 20, 2014 8:32 pm

Ref got it completely right but only one week for a punch to the face? Seriously?
Pretty embarrassing when our sport gives clumsy tip tackles bigger bans than striking a player in the face with punches.

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JB May 20, 2014 8:37 pm

A punch to the face is unlikely to leave the recipient in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. Tip tackling is much more dangerous and deserves the ban that's dished out.

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WelshOsprey May 20, 2014 8:43 pm

When was the last time you saw someone get paralysed or even injured from a tip tackle? It's pathetic.

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jimmy23 May 20, 2014 8:54 pm

A guy called Alex Mcckinnon from the NRL got his neck broken a few weeks back, although it is league it still demonstrates what can go wrong with a tip tackle.

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Citing Commissioner Top Comment | May 20, 2014 11:01 pm

Not to be a pedant but if you watch that tackle it was hardly a conventional rugby union 'tip-takle'.
More the result of the rugby league style tacking and the attacking player unfortunately getting his head in an awkward position.
I don't really think this rugby league tackle can be considered evidence that a tackle that used to be textbook is now outlawed in rugby union.

View Video

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jimmy23 May 21, 2014 5:17 am

@ Citing Commissioner
I agree it's not a conventional union 'tip-tackle', but it still happened as a result of him getting lifted in the air beyond the horizontal and his head getting in that awkward position highlights the lack of control that can occur when it happens.

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TotesMcGoates May 21, 2014 11:08 pm

@Citing Commissioner;
Check this one out. A lot of similarities with McKinnon's tackle, thankfully not the same result. These ones happen in union as well as league.

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TotesMcGoates May 21, 2014 11:11 pm

@Citing Commissioner;
Check this one out. A lot of similarities with McKinnon's tackle, thankfully not the same result. These ones happen in union as well as league.

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rufio May 20, 2014 9:17 pm

WelshOsprey, your an arrogant prick. Typical of the Welsh (although not all Welsh). BET YOU DONT EVEN PLAY RUGBY!!! Just because you may not HEAR about it, doesnt mean it doesnt happen. Believe me, i play the game hard and fast. Im an advocate of rugby being a physical, contact sport and would rather smash people all day then score trys!! But their is NO PLACE in the game for going above the horizontal in a tackle!! Tip tackles are dangerous.

Try googling Judah Campbell, poor guy was on the receiving end of a tip tackle last year playing amateur rugby and broke his neck!! I wouldnt wish that on anyone, EVEN YOU!!

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DrG May 20, 2014 11:44 pm

You may not agree with his attitude, but he has a point. Scrums/rucks/mauls are far more dangerous than tip tackles.

To name but a few:
Tom Croft, I believe had a nasty neck injury after a tackle he attempted went wrong.
Thom Evans suffered a neck break after receiving an odd tackle that was completely lacking in malice.
Gareth Jones - an amateur, died from a neck injury which happened during a ruck.
Paul Kilbride - Rugby league amateur - neck injury from a scrum.

There are more as I'm sure you're aware. I don't wish to detract from the topic at hand that tip tackles CAN be dangerous, but the way you kicked off was unnecessary to say the least. This is especially the case as it appears your main source of anger is about 'broken necks' which as you can see from my small list above, can occur in the far more 'controlled' aspects of the game...

Tip tackles cause injury so ban them seems to be the basis of your argument.. Should we ban other tackles too? and scrums/rucks etc?

p.s Your =/= you're...

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stroudos May 21, 2014 7:45 am

Well put DrG.

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ajb May 22, 2014 5:28 pm

There was a study being reported on in the Times in the UK yesterday which was analysing spinal injuries in union and league players. The study found little difference in the prevalence between spinal/neck injuries in professional union and league players, suggesting one of two things to me:

1. either the slightly laxer rules on tackling in league leads to more injuries, enough to equal out for the addition of rucks and scrums in union; or

2. actually for the most part rucks, mauls and scrums do not cause a significant number of spinal injuries compared to tackle situations (though that is not to say that they cause no spinal injuries)

I personally believe the second one for professional players. The new rules on engagements have certainly reduced the risk on engagement, and fewer collapses also helps. With rucks, stopping players charging in with shoulders also helps massively. Mauls would seem to be lower risk as they tend to be more straight-up pushing contests than high-impact collisions.

For amateurs, I would think that rucks and scrums are more significant in causing spinal injuries as technique is worse, and lower physicality means that tackle collisions are smaller.

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DrG May 23, 2014 10:49 pm

@ajb, very interesting point, I am however not sure I completely agree..

Although I admit the recent professional spinal injuries have been from a tackle situation - (tackle or tackler). Other than that, thankfully I don't recall many other spinal injuries.

One thing I will say, is that of the 2 neck injuries of recent years that I recall in the professional game, both have come from fairly innocuous tackle situations. Thom Evans is the first, he got sort of 'squashed' between two Welsh defenders as he went sort of head first into one of them. The second is Croft, whose injury came from him; I believe, having his head in the wrong position.

So really, as dangerous as spear tackles appear to be, there has been very few neck/back injuries from them - that I recall anyway.

Just to add, mauls are potentially extremely dangerous situations. If you think a scrum is 'semi dangerous' then consider the fact that it is 'perfectly' set up. A maul however is a collection of players rarely in 'perfect' positions, the players often have a tendency to lose their balance and come down in a heap all at odd angles...

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Canadian content May 21, 2014 1:50 am

Dude your bigoted attitude regarding your opinion of the welsh is really uncalled for

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Rugbydump May 21, 2014 9:56 am

Rufio, please watch your tone. There's no need for those kind of comments. For the sake of the discussion the comment will stay up, but in future this type of language won't be allowed. Thanks

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Bunn May 20, 2014 11:22 pm

Many people get paralyzed and killing in brawls that very way every year

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Steve May 20, 2014 11:48 pm

Really? Perhaps you are not aware of the recent spate of DEATHS that have occurred on the streets as the result of ONE PUNCH to the head. Intentional violence whereby a Neanderthals have shown they have no self control should be healthy with much harder than accidents.

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Jon May 22, 2014 2:13 am

Steve, deaths from punches are virtually never caused by the punch itself, but instead is almost always as the result of the victim falling and striking his head on the pavement or concrete.
It seems asinine, and that is not my intention, but a punch up on grass is a million times safer than a punch up on a sidewalk.

These guys are professional rugby players who hit each other at high speeds for a living. A punch to the noggin is unlikely to kill them, anymore than a tackle is.

A scrum is a much more potentially dangerous scenario than a fist fight on the rugby pitch, because of the risk of permanent spinal damage.

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stroudos Top Comment | May 21, 2014 9:46 am

@rufio - perhaps youtube would be a more suitable environment for your style of debate.

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DanKnapp May 22, 2014 5:18 am

LOL, u r so rite.

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finedisregard May 20, 2014 10:08 pm

You realize that "tip tackling" was not illegal until very recently? It wasn't even considered unsporting or as dangerous as a high tackle. As a matter of fact just 10 years ago my coach admonished me for getting put on my back for running too high.

I'm not making light of anyone's injury. I am trying to give some historical context. For most of the history of rugby union and RL if you could pick up a ball carrier and drive them backwards it was considered a great tackle. I'm not saying it was safe, but the crowd went wild.

The idea that putting somebody horizontal at tackle (or even punching someone) is somehow a super bad thing to do is new to the sport.

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FatProp May 20, 2014 10:40 pm

I don't know if I am understanding your definition of tip tackle. Being lifted in the air and slammed onto your back is still a legal tackle, being slammed onto your neck and higher is then a problem. I think that people's welfare is now more thought about since the game went professional, I have no problems with the new rules(i'm not saying you do) and I think it is better that we have these rules nowadays. Remember these are just guys trying to make a living.

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finedisregard May 20, 2014 11:49 pm

I understand where you're coming from. No I'm not a fan of having people dropped upon their heads. I do think that the way that the rule is administered is very problematic. Many times in rugby players land or collide awkwardly and unless the offender is malicious I think the "you lifted in a tackle=straight red" isn't great for the game. Actually I believe unless there is something extremely heinous all players should stay on the field and cards have hurt the game in total.

For instance that Sam Warburton tackle from the WC I thought was fair.

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DrG May 20, 2014 11:50 pm

Problem with that FP is that as the tackler you would have to ensure the tackled player lands squarely on his back.

Take an upright player: | ...turn them horizontal --- and that is lets say 90 degrees which should, in theory = safe (as far as I am aware).

If however the player goes slightly over horizontal by 1 degree even, then they are landing on the UPPER part of their back which is; again as far as I am aware, now considered dangerous...

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FatProp May 21, 2014 3:09 pm

I don't think that it is that hard to not put someone on their neck/top back. when you're moving forward then putting them down the tackled player normally hits the ground ass first.

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DrG May 21, 2014 7:34 pm

Honestly I can't agree or disagree, I hadn't given it too much thought, other than as much as I've stated above.. just that literally 0.0001 degree past the horizontal is surely to be considered as a tip tackle?

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gurchin May 20, 2014 10:48 pm

Since professionalism guys are bigger and stronger, so they can lift guys more easily and higher. Then the bigger they are the harder they fall so the risk to the lifted player is greater.

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Jon May 20, 2014 11:27 pm

Good shots, as someone who tries hard to be good at boxing (and mostly fails), I'm impressed. Neither guy has any defense, but Ma'afu has got some power in those hands.
Uppercut to the body, cross to the head. Game over.

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stroudos May 21, 2014 7:57 am

Pedant alert - surely the money shot punch is a left hook, not a cross?
Either way, beautiful combo.

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Jon May 22, 2014 1:51 am

You're absolutely right mate.
My mistake.
If we're gonna be really pedantic it's probably a counter hook, because it comes over the top of the extended right arm.

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DrG May 20, 2014 11:52 pm

I actually don't know about the punches, I don't want to start a disagreement trend however, Youngs looks like he strikes Ma'afu first, so where do we draw the line, I mean it smacks Paul O'Connells 'I have to defend myself'... I get that Youngs wasn't releasing a Cudmore special, but he struck first so surely a red for Ma'afu could've/should've resulted in a red for Youngs also?

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Canadian content May 21, 2014 1:55 am

The bit with cockerill at the end was annoying

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DrG May 21, 2014 5:58 am

Exactly, who gives a **** what his opinion is? Course he's going to say 'Red card', you can bet your boots (and mine) that had it been Youngs that landed that punch then he wouldn't be standing up yelling 'red card' so who cares what he thinks??

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Hennie May 21, 2014 4:26 am

In Ice Hockey they have real good fights. Man to man fights, and they get 4 minutes in the penalty box. Rugby used to be a good game to watch, but nowadays it's for sissys. A punch can get you suspended for 2 years. Bring back the fights and make it a real game again.

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stroudos May 21, 2014 7:59 am

Slight exaggeration as this one was punished with a slap on the wrist.

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Canadian content May 21, 2014 9:27 pm

A) it's hockey
B) they get 5 minutes plus 2 for the instigator, so one team has the advantage
C) fighting is rarely seen in the later rounds of the playoffs and never in the Olympics
D) as previously mentioned, you are obviously unfamiliar with the potential catastrophic consequences of a punch to the head (concussion, collapsed orbital bones, long term brain damage, possibly death, it happens)
E) I prefer to watch good rugby and turn to the UFC for my combat sports. Does this make me a sissy? Does anyone actually use that term anymore?

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DrG May 21, 2014 9:56 pm

I don't like the idea of turning rugby into UFC/boxing etc, but by the same token, two front rows having a dig at each other can easily be solved with a yellow to each, if they carry it on afterwards then it's another yellow = red or a straight red. I don't see why Ma'afu should get the red just because he can actually land a decent punch, Youngs was swinging as well as what looks like the instigator, just because his punches weren't 'great' it surely doesn't mean he deserves any less of a punishment.

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Jon May 22, 2014 2:06 am

Good point Dr G.
Seems like Youngs brought a knife to a gun fight and Ma'afu got punished just for having a bit of power in his hands.
Should have been yellow to both or red to both.

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Coops May 21, 2014 8:05 am

Definitely not a red card for Youngs. There were a couple of 'open handed' exchanges at the front of a driving maul but the replays showed it was Ma'afu who struck with Youngs' face first before completely going OTT with his reaction. Youngs shouldn't even have received a yellow.

The one week ban is odd. Manu Tuilagi missed 5 weeks for his similar flurry on Ashton. Great response from Youngs on twitter though.

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DanKnapp May 22, 2014 5:22 am

Tuilagi got a one week ban for punching Ashton three times to the head, but had to take four weeks off to recover from the monster hangover which resulted in about 2 million people all buying him beers.

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stroudos May 21, 2014 9:08 am

0:28 - Ben Youngs having a pop at Ma'afu for punching his big brother. Quite endearing really. Especially as Tom basically has to come in and defend Ben.

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stroudos May 21, 2014 9:52 am

Those who've seen the film Snatch might enjoy this effort - I've recast Ma'afu as Bricktop:

(If you haven't seen Snatch, you really should).

View Video

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browner May 21, 2014 6:04 pm

Did anyone expect the ban to extend beyond 1pm on 31st May ? Really? Essentially this is a 'Red card sufficient' punishment decision, I've no qualm with that, a minor spat between two front rowers, zzzzzzz

Young's shows his class with admirable post match banter ....top bloke, great advice from dad .

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matt May 22, 2014 8:06 am

I think Mulipola deserves a kudos for keeping his cool there. So many players would have charged in and thrown their own, which only serves to muddy the waters and probably would have resulted in a yellow for Mulipola and Ma'afu

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10stonenumber10 May 23, 2014 5:22 pm

may I be the first to say...


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Hennie May 29, 2014 4:47 am

Yip, I just used that term, Sissy....No pun intended.
I used to play rugby, but only for about 30 years, can feel the damage of the punches now , but do not regret one minute of practise or hard games on Saturdays afternoon......Traveling to unknown country's and get into fights on the field and have a few cold ones afterwards.....Now it's turning into a game for " Sissy's".

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