Monday, November 21, 2016
England's Joe Launchbury has been cited for kicking Fijian centre Asaeli Tikoirotuma during Saturday's 58-15 win over Fiji at Twickenham. Launchbury, who scored two tries on the day, will find out if whether he will receive a ban or not at a disciplinary hearing today.
Launchbury appeared to attempt to kick the ball in a ruck, but connected with the Fijian flyer's head, contravening Law 10.4(c).
While it may have been accidental, World Rugby recently reiterated that certain types of dangerous contact with the head will be heavily policed and sanctioned. This exact offence was mentioned as being dangerous play, when players kick through the ruck at the ball recklessly.
"World Rugby's number-one priority is player welfare and the laws of the game clearly state that the necks and heads of players are sacrosanct," explained World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman, Anthony Buchana.
"When it comes to foul play, the game is cleaner now than ever before but referees must constantly be alert to head-high hits."
World Rugby went on to issue a reminder to elite referees, instructing them to be especially vigilant in this area. They used this video as an example of the kind of kicking that isn't allowed at the breakdown, which is clearly exactly what Launchbury did. Accidental, but reckless and dangerous.
The 25-year-old could be banned for anything between four and 12 weeks, meaning he will certainly miss England's next autumn internationals, against Argentina and Australia.
UPDATE: Launchbury received a 4 week suspension, reduced to 2 weeks. Full details here
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