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Richie McCaw reveals breakdown secrets

Sona Taumalolo fend like right hook

Jerry Collins Haka the day before crash

HUGE hit between giant Polish forwards

Friday, June 27, 2014

Samson Lee suspended for five weeks for headbutt against South Africa

Earlier this week Wales prop Samson Lee was suspended for five weeks for a headbutt on Flip van der Merwe during the Springboks vs Wales second Test at the Mombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The incident occurred shortly before a Welsh try, but wasn't looked at.

Lee and lock Van Der Merwe came into contact at the bottom of a ruck just before Wales' Ken Owens try. If you watch the clip you can see it happen after the lineout, in front of referee Steve Walsh but as he later testified to, he didn't see it happen.

Springbok captain Victor Matfield brought the incident to the attention of Walsh after Owens went over for the try, but the referee outright rejected his claims, and opted not to take a look at the foul play, instead focussing on the try, which was awarded after multiple replays.

Van der Merwe left the field shortly afterwards to have a cut below his left eyebrow attended to.

Following the match Lee was cited for striking an opponent with the head, contrary to Law 10.4(a), and faced a disciplinary hearing where he was found guilty of the offence. A mid-range sanction was reduced by five weeks due to mitagating factors such as clean record, admission and remorse.

Lee explained that he didn't remember the incident, but later said that he was trying to clear himself from being held by Van der Merwe, with coach Warren Gatland adding that his conduct was clearly a product of his frustration.

He is suspended up to and including 21 September 2014. You can view a copy of the hearing's findings here, which goes through everything in detail.

Posted by Rugbydump at 6:25 am | View Comments (49)

South Africa maintain home record with dramatic win

Springboks convincingly brush aside Welsh challenge

Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 49 comments

WelshOsprey June 27, 2014 9:33 am

Truly bone-crushing force on that headbutt

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Gazza June 27, 2014 9:46 am

Enough to render the try illegal. As was the blatant knock on when grounding it.

Steve Walsh had a mare - allowing Wales all the momentum in the first 25. Boks were awful but this game should never have been close.

Fortunately normal service resumed when it came down to the result.

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DrG June 27, 2014 10:12 am

I was looking forward to this clip as I had read about the incident and subsequent ban, but I had not seen it...

I'll admit right now, that after 5 replays of that last clip I nearly gave up looking. The 6th replay I just saw it - ok, RD normally has 'better' clips of incidents, but that 'incident' was truly pathetic.

A ban, I suppose seems fair - Etzebeth got a ban for his effort and this looks much the same. Although this got 5 weeks, Etzebeths got 2 weeks. Pretty sad...

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Ireland West June 27, 2014 11:38 am

Being banned for 5 weeks will not be something Lee would have wanted from his debut.
Hopefully this will remind him of the need for discipline on the pitch. If you want to hurt your opponent, beat him on the scoreboard. He was somewhat fortunate that it wasn't seen and given ten minutes to ponder the loss of the subsequent try and, like his club mate Williams later, the wording of his apology to his team mates. 'Frustration' is a natural part of every encounter in sport, and should not be used as an excuse to toss away your team's efforts so that you feel better. Lee could turn out to be a top class international prop, if he can use his head (legally).

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Eddie-g June 27, 2014 11:57 am

No arguments that headbutting should be harshly punished, but I have some sympathy for Samson Lee here.

The butt as such seemed to be almost incidental. He's wrestling with Flip, it looks to me like a standard argy-bargy in a ruck/maul situation, and I can't see clearly from this footage where he deliberately aims a butt at Flip. His head does make contact, but is it really a butt? I guess it was, but it's not one of the most obvious ones in history.

I'm not surprised Walsh didn't see it, but I guess the message is that in test matches, there's very little you can get away with.

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stroudos June 27, 2014 1:40 pm

I agree with you. Van der Merwe seem to be holding him down, both his hands are busy, so simply tries to free himself using his head. OK, you can't go round headbutting people but this incident is really a result of cynical cheating by the SA player.

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Eddie-g June 27, 2014 3:19 pm

To be fair to Flip, he's kind of pinned at the bottom of a ruck, not sure what if anything he did that was unusual in that situation.

As I said, this seemed like garden-variety wrestling you see in a ruck. For me, he butts him while wrestling, it's not really like he tried to butt him. Very harsh punishment as a result I think

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stroudos June 27, 2014 8:47 pm

Exactly. You put it much better than I did. I didn't really mean to call him a cynical cheat - got a bit carried away!

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Canadian content July 03, 2014 1:27 am

Name me a sport, besides pro wrestling, where head butts ares an acceptable part of argy bargy

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DrG July 04, 2014 11:13 pm

I get where you're coming from, but surely in our game this instance is very low on the headbutt incidents. I'd say rugby is trying to avoid incidents like this: (not rugby) (different code)

And ofcourse the dreaded Ansbro v Strokosch incident...

..any jokes aside, I find this is not exactly a 'big deal' I suppose it is easier for the officials to treat a headbutt as a headbutt... but remember that age old video of the Tom James headbutt:

Is THAT really a headbutt? or is there somewhere in the laws that can provide referee's with the ability to use their heads and also Nigel Owens sound clips, for instance "This is not soccer" "you're both acting very immature" etc etc

View Videos

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Jaro June 27, 2014 12:21 pm

I cant see this head anywhere !!

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larry June 27, 2014 1:04 pm

There's just too many cameras looking to get away with stuff like that anymore in first class/international rugby. Regarding the try scored, Walsh immediately calls for the TMOS. Wow, how the game has changed, because it looked pretty straightforward that a try was scored.

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stroudos June 27, 2014 1:37 pm

Best bit about this clip is the very camp celebratory dance Liam Williams does at 0:30.....

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DrG June 27, 2014 4:22 pm

Then his classy knocking the ball out the Saffas grip and patting him... what a punchable character..

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stroudos June 27, 2014 8:59 pm

Ha! I didn't even notice that!
What a bell end.

It's one thing being a wind-up merchant, but he doesn't even have that effect - the Staffa just turns round and ignores him, probably thinking "what a bell end".

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stroudos June 27, 2014 9:01 pm

Any idea why the iPhone autocorrects Saffa to Staffa? What on earth is a Staffa?

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Eddie-g June 27, 2014 10:05 pm

It's Francois Louw he's trying to wind up, as he played a season with Gavin Henson probably gotten used to this sort of douche behavior.

Anyhow, he cost wales this match in the end, clearly couldn't have happened to a more deserving bloke.

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Joaco June 27, 2014 2:17 pm

Guys get ready to storm IRB HQ in dublin, these guys have reached a level of dementedness often seen in 95+ years old. No way this is 5 weeks ban. Where the f is the actual headbutt huh? Pathetic. I can't understand no-one at the highest level of rugby mentions and criticizes these weird bans and red card. Some violent riot is in order

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Joaco June 27, 2014 2:34 pm

Pathetic headbutt, pathetic ban and pathetic governing body. Time to make a third Code

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larry July 01, 2014 2:41 pm

I hear you. Big Brother is watching on the field. Any sort of misconduct and it's like zero tolerance. Sure, I don't mind the off the ball stuff being caught and handled after or during the match by administrators or referees, but the so-called misconduct during play on the ball, well, it's just a really fine line drawn now, isn't it? And has this strict interpretation of dangerous play/misconduct meant there's any less of it? It's rugby, a contact sport. It lends itself to guys getting a bit out of control at times to do things they shouldn't on the field. It's going to happen, unless the game is changed into touch rugby. This player certainly doesn't deserve a suspension. Maybe a yellow card and a reversal of the try was all that was needed, and I'm not sure it was such a blatant head butt that it even deserved that!

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browner July 02, 2014 9:14 am

There already is a code for you really really tough guys, cage fighting ! Problem is, your opponent gets a chance to look you in the eye, not enjoyed by the cheap shot cowards that masquerade as rugby players.

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Canadian content July 03, 2014 1:28 am

No head butts either

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Pablito June 27, 2014 3:48 pm

Wow. The world sure has changed when the Boks of all teams are whinging to the ref about such a non-event.

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Ando June 27, 2014 4:19 pm

That is pretty pissweak

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DrG June 27, 2014 4:20 pm

The reason all this sh*t non event stuff is becoming such an event is because of $$$ £££ etc etc

Rugby is heading towards the pinnacle of world events, joining the likes of soccer. Managers/Coaches and players are becoming more vocal regarding the officiating of the game (like soccer). Games/wins etc are worth a huge amount of money as they lead to better positioning in rankings and thus, more lucrative sponsors. In turn sponsors do not want their name plastered all over the shirt of some guys who is seen beating seven shades of s**t out of another player, so of course that helps sanitize the sport.

Then of course, the other side of it is attention - the sport will get far greater support and attention from the likes of little Eric's mummy who will let him play if it's a gentle sport where he won't run the risk of dirtying the cotton wool and bubble wrap blanket he's constantly wrapped in.

I'm not saying bring back the days of fish hooking and eye gouging and lets do our best to stop boots stamping on heads, but for crying out loud this kind of s**t is pathetic.

I eagerly await a response from all those fans who are looking forward to this game becoming a full blown 15 aside touch rugby game!

...Sarcastaball is the future I guess...

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larry July 05, 2014 6:19 pm

Compare what rucks used to look like to what they look like now. Defending forwards fan out clogging up the mid-field like it's rugby league. A few token forwards stay in the so-called ruck just in case there's a close-to-the-ruck break off the ball coming out (which there usually is, for another two or three yards of running and then going to ground and another so-called ruck). There's still contact, but it's a different sort of contact in the game the last decade plus. Just the fact that players are generally bigger and more fit means harder contact overall. But lets face it, with all the cameras on first class and upper level matches, misconduct, whether blatant, or, as in this case, rather minor, are going to be seen sooner or later. I don't know that that means any less misconduct than before.

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DrG July 07, 2014 10:14 am

Aside from you dislike of forwards fanning out (which they've always done), I'll focus more on the point at hand - Misconduct!

I personally believe the game has become softer in the violence aspect. Players are indeed bigger, stronger, heavier, so no doubt the game has become "harder" in the everyday collisions, but you replied to the Arwel Thomas video I posted, which showed a distinct lack of interest by the referee's and a different attitude by the commentators. So I think the levels of misconduct have changed, where before stamping on someones head might have been a good decision, now you're likely to get strung up as a result of a camera seeing you do it. That being said, there is still going to be some incidents, take Andy Hazells outburst last year? Early this year?

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SupaC June 27, 2014 8:03 pm

Can someone post a time for when this occurred? I've watched it, like, 6 times and can't see anything!!

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DrG June 28, 2014 1:21 am

Well... there isn't really 'anything' to see. But the pathetic non event that occurred starts at 0:43 (in the replay)

Pause it then (0:43) and look in the centre of the screen - Just to the right of Steve Walsh is a South African shirt Number 4 - Play through to about 0:45 and you'll suddenly see a Welsh head appear going 'up' then back down, and the back down is where the 'contact' occurs I guess...

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10stonenumber10 June 28, 2014 7:55 am

Take a leaf from State of Origin.

"Too much to see here, can't send someone off"
"talk to the captains and at most have a scrum"
"The ref won't want to hear anything from the touch judge"

Don't forget to check out the Raining XXXX beer can video, crowd's response to a bullish*t sending off

View Video

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DrG June 28, 2014 10:52 am

Hahaha, those are some interesting videos... not too sure about the shorts they're all wearing.

Felt sorry for all the camera crew/photographers when the beer cans were flying..

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DirtyLittleScrumbag June 27, 2014 9:43 pm

Nothing to see here.... RIP rugby

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DrG June 28, 2014 1:22 am

One of the most sensible posts you've made since joining up!

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Joaco June 27, 2014 10:00 pm

Maybe we should do a peaceful demonstration outside IRB Offices? Cause if we let them free to change our sport, we'll wake up one day and Rugby as we know it won't exist anymore.

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Eddie-g June 27, 2014 10:14 pm

That could be fun, marchers show up with placards of rugby players done an injustice... Every saffa on Facebook would show up, so would every Frenchman within 100 miles of Toulouse , and all of Uruguay if we tell them one their guys once got banned for biting.

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10stonenumber10 June 28, 2014 1:31 am

I suppose this is almost the equivalent bullsh*t level as Jebb Sinclair's "leading with the elbow" nonsense. Karmic equivalent of the advantage Wales gained from such a sh*t call.

This is a contact game. Occasionally things collide. Even more so half buried under a ruck, wrestling with someone on the floor. If anything, it looks like he is ducking his head into Flip's shoulder so that he DOESN'T faceplant/headbutt him.

Liam Williams. He didn't score that try, what right does he have to act the dingbat? There is a fine line between irritating a team with guile, and exponentially increasing the 'punchability' factor of his own face.

With situations like this, I can't help but think "What Would Bakkies Do?"

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DrG June 28, 2014 11:01 am

Didn't actually realise Van Der Merwe was hurt in this..

'In his first statement SA4 described the incident thus:
“In the second half I was headbutted by number 3 from Wales. I left the field with blood but was able to go back and continue the match”.'

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10stonenumber10 June 28, 2014 3:55 pm

There was actual head to head contact in the clip, but more glancing than a direct hit, kind of like in boxing catching an accidental head when you clinch. You do expect better from an International though, first cap or 100th cap, you have a duty of respect towards the team, opposition, ref and fans, I suppose putting a heavy foot down on this will set the tone for 0 tolerance of ANY headbutting.

Kids don't cheat anywhere near as subtly as adults do, if they pick up on this and start trying it in games... it is another reason for parents to stop them playing this fine sport. I remember some kid spitting his gum shield out and biting my ear in U10s because he saw Tyson do it to Holyfield, weirdo used to do it in the playground too. Same thing years later, before the Hartley ban i had never had a finger anywhere near either of my eyes, during the one year after, it happened on 3 occasions to varying degrees.

Stupid reaction by Lee, deserving of a yellow for taking handbags to the next stage, but seriously, 5 weeks for that? Ma'afu only got 1 week for knocking Youngs onto his a*se...

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DrG June 28, 2014 4:47 pm

Personally thought Youngs was giving...well, not quite as good as he got, but not exactly being friendly...

Anyway, found this clip showing an old incident, I've never seen it before but I enjoyed it:

View Video

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Ireland West June 29, 2014 11:41 am

Love the way the co-commentator backtracks from his original 'no messing Arwel, put it straight back on his jaw, well done' comment to agreeing that punching 'has no place in our sport'.
France had the last laugh with the winning try (and Grand Slam) coming off a botched drop-goal attempt.

This is pure 'handbags' and Peter Marshall treated it as such. No comparison to headbutting someone's unprotected face.

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DrG June 29, 2014 11:55 am

...Not too bothered about the outcome of the game, but well done to France. The actual quote is "We can't condone a punch on the International field, can we John?" in which 'John' agreed too.. so it wasn't quite "has no place in our sport" as you've stated. I think that is also more of a case of "we can't be SEEN to condone," which is rightly so, however being seen to condone something and quietly condoning are too different things.

Anyway, as for the last bit - how is what Arwel did (flooring someone) handbags, compared to what Samson Lee did? I suppose it is easier for the officials to view all instances as the same, but this was a nothing event.

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Ireland West June 29, 2014 9:33 pm

In the Arwel Thomas incident, the guy, Carbonneau whose 'dive' would grace any FIFA World Cup, had the opportunity to defend himself.
In the Samson Lee incident, Van der Merwe could not defend himself.

I've no wish to defend or impugn either player, but an attack on a player who cannot defend himself has to be treated as more serious.

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DrG June 30, 2014 11:29 am

Well it's not like they weren't tussling or anything, looks to me like Van Der Merwe had Lee in a sort of headlock/round the neck...Both were in a position to defend themselves, it's just harder to defend against a headbutt...

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Ireland West June 29, 2014 9:59 pm

The only other comparison that comes to mind is that this was Samson Lee's debut, and Arwel Thomas' final Test was against South Africa in 2000, and was refereed by, yes,.... SR Walsh.

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larry July 01, 2014 2:47 pm

The Arwel Thomas incident was a classic. I have a tape of that game. That kind of "policing" used to be quite common in rugby going back into the 90's. Heck, if you want to see some real violence, check the 4th test of the 1971 Lions tour in New Zealand. Nowadays Jas Muller would get a year's ban for what he did to Gordon Brown in that game!

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DW June 30, 2014 1:22 pm

Seems harsh but.... how much of a LAD is Samson Lee? Not many 21 year olds can hold their own against a physical and experienced side and fewer still go around headbutting SA locks :)

Not sure if anyone saw his blog on another rugby site where he lists his interests "rugby, ferreting, rabbiting wid dogs" and is happiest when "playin wid ma balls".

I normally avoid such language but the guy is a Lad of epic proportions :)

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Ireland West June 30, 2014 3:14 pm

When asked by the Judicial Officer whether he (Lee) had ever been sent off before, he replied that he couldn't remember !!

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Ireland West June 30, 2014 3:14 pm

When asked by the Judicial Officer whether he (Lee) had ever been sent off before, he replied that he couldn't remember !!

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DW June 30, 2014 6:50 pm

Pretty funny stuff in the report...

"When I asked him why he did it, he said he was trying to “clear him with my face”"

"I enquired about his disciplinary record. Disarmingly, he said he could not remember how many times he had been sent off. "


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