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Wednesday Oct 7, 2015

Alesana Tuilagi banned for 5 weeks for 'kneeing' Japanese tackler

Alesana Tuilagi banned for 5 weeks for 'kneeing' Japanese tackler
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Alesana Tuilagi has been banned for five weeks for what has been called an act of foul play, contrary to Law 10.4(a). The incident occurred in the second minute of play against Japan, when tackler Harumichi Tatekawa unfortunately made contact with Tuilagi’s knee.

Tatekawa required some treatment but nothing was made of it at the time, with nobody seeing anything wrong, including the referee and his TMO, who has Hawkeye and is part of a team of three looking at foul play incidents.

Yet, independent Citing Commissioner Yves Thieffine (France) looked at the video footage and chose to cite Tuilagi for striking with the knee.

In the disciplinary hearing that followed, Tuilagi denied the act of foul play but after a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles, medical evidence, submissions from the player and his legal representatives, Judicial Officier Anthony Davies (England) upheld the citing, stating that Tuilagi had indeed committed foul play.

Davies determined that the offence was mid-range, which has an entry point of eight weeks.

However, taking into account mitigating factors including his impeccable conduct during the hearing, good character and record over a long career and the absence of any off-field aggravating factors, the player was suspended for a period of five weeks,” the statement read.

Tuilagi will therefore miss Samoa’s last match, against Scotland. The ban will then chew into his time with Newcastle Falcons, as he is suspended up to and including 9 November 2015.

Tuilagi and has 48 hours in which to appeal from the time he received the full decision.

Support for Tuilagi on Twitter

Twitter was blowing up about the decision this morning, with former players, pundits and personalities all weighing in on what has been viewed as a shocking decision.

Sports presenter Sonja McLaughlan summed it up as “Criminal decision. Big man knocks over smaller man. End of,” while outspoken former Samoan player Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu tweeted “Last RWC, Tuilagi was fined $10,000 for wearing a mouthguard. Now hes banned for a bump off. @WorldRugby what is it youre trying to prove?”

New Zealand commentator and rugby pundit Scott Stevenson tweeted “If the public can vote for man of the match, can the public also vote to overturn this ludicrous Tuilagi suspension?” while player Ryan Lamb said “Tuilagi’s ban is ridiculous, just put a belt on and call it the tag rugby World Cup! #joke” before adding:

You can view the video below, and of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the decision

You can read the full Alesana Tuilagi Disciplinary Hearing outcome here

58 Comments

  • drg
    5:19 PM 11/10/2015

    That is what really strikes me as worrying.. I'd say Tuilagi did 'intentionally lift his knee'.. however it was done in his running/bulldozing style and designed by break a tackle, not a player. Whereas the links I posted (a few amongst many available online) were examples of players deliberately trying to hurt a player (or irritate), they were not done; as you say, by someone 'playing rugby'.... I think it's a big concern amongst the world at the moment about how rugby is 'turning soft'...

    Reply
  • stroudos
    11:49 AM 10/10/2015

    Spot on Mr Griffin. At the appeal, that video should be shown as Exhibit A when they counter the JO's laughable comment that he's never seen his movement from Tuilagi in ten years of watching him. In almost every bump-off in this video, he does a bit of a lunge so his leading knee is kind of channelling his bodyweight forwards. That combined with the shoulder and body position (and 120kg of Samoan) allow him to brace for impact and win the collision. Whether the pathetic judicial officer likes it or not, I'm taking this incident as a coaching lesson and will be attempting to emulate this technique every time I try to bowl someone from now on.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    11:09 AM 10/10/2015

    Yes DrG. This is exactly the issue isn't it. The videos you posted here all feature deliberate "striking with the knee". These are what the law is designed to prohibit. They are completely different from clattering a would-be tackler while running along a rugby pitch with a rugby ball in your hand. Got to say fair play to Barnesy for spotting the Battut one. And having the balls to make the call without the bloody TMO. I suspect Battut's protest was not so much of innocence but more "shit, I thought I was being really sly, how did he spot that?"

    Reply
  • stroudos
    10:58 AM 10/10/2015

    The warning Burgess received from the judicial officer is intended to mean exactly that it should have been punished with a yellow card at the time. That is what is meant with that decision. I agree that a yellow card should have been shown at the time. Apart from your "perhaps even a red", you, the judicial officer and I all agree on this.

    Reply
  • jmehrtens
    7:32 AM 10/10/2015

    There is nothing unnatural about his movement. Have you played rugby or any other sport that involves running? When sprinting you lift your knees (look at a 100m sprint) when you step more decisive towards something/someone your knee will lead (look at a triple jump). But put it differently, try running at high speed and try hitting an object with your knee while running. It is not possible. You will be out of balance and a little tap will be enough to make you fall.

    Reply
  • drg
    8:12 PM 09/10/2015

    ...I actually can't believe we have RD followers that genuinely support this ban... Aside from browner, who was an old-school front rower who seems permanently wrapped in cotton wool - ptsd from his playing days maybe? The rest of you are ridiculous...

    Reply
  • browner
    9:39 AM 09/10/2015

    fell off my chair chuckling ....... as if.

    Reply
  • tvrdoglavi
    9:30 AM 09/10/2015

    Political correctness crept into rugby years ago. This is just an inevitable evolution of that sort of thinking. Terrible refereeing is plaguing the game for years. Only a few French refs (not all) referee in the spirit of the game (like they once played rugby, so they understand). The rest are like Croatian traffic cops - the safety of the drivers is not an issue, they just want to fine you as much as they can.

    Reply
  • cluainoir
    9:02 AM 09/10/2015

    To say that that the "naughty naughty" comment by the ref to burgess was a correct response to a potentially neck breaking challenge leads me to believe that you are viewing it through rose tinted glasses stroudos. The only thing that saved him from a yellow card was that farrell had beat him to it. He should have recieved a sanction after the game. I do agree though that Tualagi's ban is totally incomprehensable.

    Reply
  • reality
    8:42 AM 09/10/2015

    You do realise he lifted his knee in an unnatural movement into another player's face when entering the tackle?

    Reply
  • jmehrtens
    8:30 AM 09/10/2015

    Looks like a ploy to weaken Samoa and get Scotland in the semis ironically at the cost of Japan.

    Reply
  • jmehrtens
    8:28 AM 09/10/2015

    You do realise that if we are not allowed to lift our knees rugby becomes a game of shuffling around?

    Reply
  • jmehrtens
    8:18 AM 09/10/2015

    Yes it is your knees, unlike sprinters tend to do, are not allowed to be lifted above roughly half the length of your leg.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:39 PM 08/10/2015

    I almost wish I hadn't asked!! God that was painful reading. What a total cretin the judicial officer is! Anthony Davies, hang your head in shame.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:18 PM 08/10/2015

    Ha! I see there are a now a couple of comments below supporting this ban now, which again just makes me shake my head in utter bewilderment.

    Reply
  • lockdog
    7:42 PM 08/10/2015

    Embarrassingly bad decision by Yves Thieffine. Perhaps Tuilagi isn't the one who should be punished, and instead it should be Thieffine for a gross miscarriage of justice.

    Reply
  • browner
    6:35 PM 08/10/2015

    AT is difficult enough to stop without accelerating a knee into an opponent as he attempts to tackle. At least the JO have shown some backbone, its a disguised cheap shot, & and another unnecessary concussion risk, the game is tough enough without this, well done DisciPanel.

    Reply
  • rugbydump
    12:54 PM 08/10/2015

    Yeah will add it to the post. If you haven't seen it in the comments yet, it's here, curiously titled W.T.F (not really, but it should be).

    Reply
  • rugbydump
    12:49 PM 08/10/2015

    Well said

    Reply
  • danknapp
    7:02 AM 08/10/2015

    I am really enjoying this thread.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    7:01 AM 08/10/2015

    Thankfully there isn't anyone like that here. *looks guilty*

    Reply
  • danknapp
    6:59 AM 08/10/2015

    Alan, you couldn't be more right. We do have to ban Brad Thorne and co. Jonah Lomu was an accident waiting to happen. This is more what I have in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRnZjTvMaT4

    Reply
  • 10:29 PM 07/10/2015

    This is a joke, sorry for replying here just to get up the comments but I think it's important everyone sees this... http://pulse-static-files.s3.amazonaws.com/test/worldrugby/document/2015/10/07/79a5854d-9037-4938-936c-e1d519079526/151007_JO_Decision_Alesana_Tuilagi_(Samoa).pdf ...the Judicial Officer's report into the decision. It is basically a sad indictment of what the boys in suits do. Now there are too many of them employed in all these pointless positions they need to justify their existence so go through footage with a tooth-comb after each game with a presumption of guilt whenever anyone so much as loses a contact lens. It's a farce.

    Reply
  • drg
    10:18 PM 07/10/2015

    Ok, please don't think I'm for the ban, totally not. However Tuilagi does lift his knee in a way that looks like he's trying to block/brace/or prepare for an extra stride.... Is this; in anyone's knowledge, illegal? And let's not have an "evidently yes" kind of comment. I've played against plays than run into contact with high knees (like those stupid training drills where you have to touch your hands with your knees as you run)... They look like interesting folk, but it is effective... Is it illegal? We're all clearly stunned by the decision, but I'm wondering whether there is any sort of case here under law xyz or whether this is being equated to kneeing such as: https://youtu.be/Z9RYZStDdDI https://youtu.be/u32QIRXZwtE https://youtu.be/R5eJagKvPGU Etcetera etcetera...

    Reply
  • drg
    10:04 PM 07/10/2015

    You'd be well aware the day Alesana jumps or hurdles, earthquakes will be reported almost globally.....

    Reply
  • drg
    10:02 PM 07/10/2015

    Hahaha I love this kind of stuff! Happens so regularly on RD, a level headed commenter says something tongue in cheek and there is always someone who takes the bait!

    Reply
  • upthejumper
    9:51 PM 07/10/2015

    Nope: you can't jump/hurdle a tackler, so I think it's legit that he gets sanctioned. BUT: in the context of Hooper only getting one week for his blatant, no-arm, off-the-ball shoulder charge on Mike Brown, it's over the top.

    Reply
  • oldflyhalf
    8:48 PM 07/10/2015

    "Not surprisingly, Tuilagi denied the act of foul play, but judicial officer Antony Davies, and Englishman, upheld the citing." "Former England captain Lewis Moody tweeted: "I'm appalled Alesana has been banned for 5 weeks. How is running into an opponent an act of foul play. Should we play walking rugby now!!!" "Former Wales flanker Martyn Williams said: "Crazy decision, seriously think by the time we get to the 2023 World Cup it will be a tag rugby tournament." "Ben Kay, a commentator for ITV and a former England forward, said: "I'm all for making our collision sport as safe as possible, but really? World Rugby I suggest you review this decision." Good luck guys !

    Reply
  • 8:43 PM 07/10/2015

    Harumichi Tatekawa really should have been banned for face butting him in the knees.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:36 PM 07/10/2015

    @RD - any chance of getting a copy of the judicial officer's report again, like you had for Nadolo? I would be absolutely fascinated to read what on earth they were thinking during this process...

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:33 PM 07/10/2015

    Definitely time to start asking those questions and demanding answers. A "performance-based" pay system would explain a lot!! I believe in a lot of cases the judicial officers are actual QCs. This may also help explain the severity of some punishments - the old bullshit line "what if someone did this in the street" may cloud their view of the fact they're watching a collision sport.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    8:25 PM 07/10/2015

    You know when you're at a party, someone tells a joke, and one person doesn't get it... well, you're that guy.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    7:39 PM 07/10/2015

    Raaaar. Excuse the previous sarcasm, but this has seriously annoyed me. It was the same with Taofifenua, Du Plessis and O'Callaghan... Bismarck kicked someone in an act of rage and was given the absolute bare minimum, Taofifenua missed the ball when kicking through a ruck in a very similar way to DOC, and was given far longer for a complete accident. Are the governing bodies blind to this sort of inequality? Google "Rugby Player Banned", spend 10 minutes reading, and you will be overwhelmed with evidence of this sort of bullsh*t. It doesn't just apply to the island nations. Maybe not quite to the same level as their Pacific counterparts, but remember when Parisse was wrongfully banned a week after Italy beat France? Jebb Sinclair's red for "leading with the elbow" felt a little premeditated by the officials too. Who are these people anyway? I am drafting an application to the IRB, with 20 years on the sofa and almost as many on the field reminding referees to put their specs on, and just like everyone else who frequents this site, I don't think, but KNOW I could do a better job. The modern game needs modern game experience. They may have been part of the game longer than I have been alive, but if they hung their boots up 30 years ago, there is only so much you can get to grips with through a TV screen.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    7:39 PM 07/10/2015

    Burgess' tackle was cited and he was issued an official warning with no further punishment. That is possibly the only disciplinary decision so far this tournament that has been correct.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    7:37 PM 07/10/2015

    On RD, on other rugby blogs, on news websites, on Twitter and Facebook and every single person I've spoken to, EVERYONE who's seen this is disgusted by the stupidity of the decision. (Actually I did see one dissenting tweet but fairly sure that was a simpleton trolling for a reaction).

    Reply
  • stroudos
    7:34 PM 07/10/2015

    Brilliantly put sir.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    7:32 PM 07/10/2015

    I second that Dan. Really shouldn't be allowed to be that size and run. While we're at it, "Pooper" need to be banned from playing together permanently. Not fair to have two players like that in one team. Devin Toner is too tall - they shouldn't be allowed to lift him at line outs. And let's have a blanket ban on offloading by Fijians.

    Reply
  • eddie-g
    7:24 PM 07/10/2015

    Are we sure this isn't a joke? I don't think there's rugby fan or player on the planet who knew this was foul play.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    6:56 PM 07/10/2015

    I agree. He should know that in a World Cup Pool Game, he should go easy on his opponents. It is just another form of bullying if a man that size uses it to his advantage in a collision sport. It is completely unfair for someone to be both big and good at rugby. I think the fine print on his ban should include a strict diet of ASDA noodles and tuna. 5 weeks is a lot of time to lose some size and make it fair for everyone else on the pitch. God forbid that he uses all 19 stone to tackle someone.

    Reply
  • drg
    6:40 PM 07/10/2015

    1:37 on that video is awesome, he holds to guard against the dummy then he sees cover coming in, so he already starts lining up and going for the receive before the ball even gets passed! Also in the clip around 2:50 when he lines up "Reddan" you can actually see he does this knee raise thing again there... I wouldn't like to be in front of it, but I certainly don't see an issue with it..

    Reply
  • mozz87
    6:29 PM 07/10/2015

    Complete garbage. Michael Hooper gets one week for trying to take Mike Brown's head off and Tuilagi gets five weeks for running into someone? We're always taught to tackle big guys around the legs, how exactly do you do that without "making contact with the knee"? World Rugby or the IRB or whatever they're calling themselves now have such a bias against polynesian teams it is absolutely ridiculous.

    Reply
  • london1
    4:42 PM 07/10/2015

    This is actually ridiculous. He is being banned for just being to hard to tackle in my understanding. I am completely in favor of eradicating foul play of rugby. Hooper was just plain stupid, if he would have wrapped Brown with the arms it would have been a fantastic clean out, instead he got banned (once again) for only a week. I think World Rugby should have a certain criteria, because though out the world cup there have been plenty inconsistencies. For instance, the Pumas number 5 Lavanini, cleans one out of 3 rucks with no arms. He has not been cited. But Galarza (Argentinas natural line out leader) has been ruled out of the World Cup for a suspected eye gouge (which i have not seen) on Retallic. Poor criteria, very poor.

    Reply
  • bigjay
    4:32 PM 07/10/2015

    I've seen a lot of hurt put I players one of the worst was Lee Byrne with a flying knee into a Scottish props temple, knocking him clean out! The guy got a yellow card on the stretcher !! Referees are almost always on the side of whosoever wins or is carrying the ball !! I don't mind them clamping down on ball carriers leading with elbows, knees and in the case of high balls feet. I just hope the are consistent. Which the never are !!!

    Reply
  • drg
    4:00 PM 07/10/2015

    I believe I saw a picture of them on instagram being transported around, they were very cute... ....Either that or it was a wheelbarrow full of baby orangutans...

    Reply
  • gonzoman
    3:48 PM 07/10/2015

    I'm sure the people hired as citing commissioners would love the banning of poor technique, but that was offered as tongue-in-cheek. It did make me think though... Do we know how citing commissioners are selected and remunerated? Is it a panel of people identified as citing commissioners and paid on a per-match basis, are they contracted on a retainer for the year/event/etc., or do they get paid per ban? Do they have a set policy or standard under which they observe games? It seems to me that as long as they have been around, they've been a source of consternation and inconsistency to the rugby community.

    Reply
  • gonzoman
    3:44 PM 07/10/2015

    As a player, I always used to lift my knee up while in the air competing for the high ball. Now it appears that I have been lucky my entire playing career to not get binned, cited, and banned for the few dozen times when my leading knee bumped another player! And now that I'm a referee, I'm going to be extra careful that no player is permitted to move their knees up and forward while running...such disgraceful and reckless actions are the scourge of the modern game! In all seriousness, if the Japanese player had tackled properly ("spine in line, bands of steel, and cheek to cheek" as my old coach used to say) then this would all be a non-issue. To my mind, there are two ways to get rid of such poor tackling: either cite the guy for deliberately executing a tackle dangerous to himself (he's got a duty of care to himself, etc.) or just let things like this happen - I'll bet that when the would-be tackler was watching the game tape, he promised himself he would never do that again.

    Reply
  • cluainoir
    3:34 PM 07/10/2015

    So many other incidents that have been ignored, Sam Burgess's high tackle towards the end of the Australia game should have been a yellow card, perhaps even a red, yet not a mention of any potential citing. Double standards it seems

    Reply
  • colombes
    3:23 PM 07/10/2015

    Now it's confirmed, when it comes to judge islanders players, commissioners become coconuts.

    Reply
  • oliver
    3:11 PM 07/10/2015

    no problem man! anyways this might be one of the few times where every one will agree about something on RD!

    Reply
  • danknapp
    2:57 PM 07/10/2015

    Tuilagi deserved the banned. I mean, look at the size of him. Someone was going to get hurt. I've heard that he spent time in the gym actually TRYING to get that large. Personally, I'd like to ensure that he never plays the sport again, but a five week ban will suffice. I've done a bit of research on Youtube, and it turns out that he has previous. I hope the authorities act to clamp down on this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djNTw0u8w6Y

    Reply
  • drg
    2:45 PM 07/10/2015

    https://youtu.be/WeBo_L0RytA

    Reply
  • drg
    2:44 PM 07/10/2015

    Haha sorry for pestering you about your views. This is crazy really though. When I read that he had kneed a Japanese player, I was expecting a ruck situation and someone dropping their knee like Grewcock v NZ many years ago...

    Reply
  • oliver
    2:06 PM 07/10/2015

    Yet another example of the auhorities' double standards. I mean Tom Woods gets a slap on the wrist, and Tuilagi gets 5 weeks for...nothing?? (yes I do believe Woods should have been punished, if not intentional it was reckless and dangerous) I hope Tuilagi appeals and the uproar about this decision leads the commission to change its mind.

    Reply
  • larryjmoon
    1:04 PM 07/10/2015

    I can't help but think that rugby officials are electing to change rugby's oak frame to that of a willow tree to ensure that glass jaw teams remain relevant in Rugby. This guy did nothing more then step through a tackle (which can be punishing for any opponent who doesn't set up for a proper take down). I can see a ref getting this wrong on the field during the heat of the game. But (for a team of officials) to review tape after the game and collectively arrive at the decision to ban this man tells me that there is an emerging and systemic flaw in the game that must be addressed and fixed. Rugby is a uniquely attractive sport largely because it involves the employment of techniques to combat raw brutality. Attempts to water down the vehement nature of the sport reduces the necessity for the tactical and strategic rugby skills that true rugby fans pay to see.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    12:56 PM 07/10/2015

    Thank God he wasn't French. He'd have been given five months.

    Reply
  • drg
    12:20 PM 07/10/2015

    Is running with high knees actually illegal? Anyway, why is anyone surprised by the ban? He's an islander.... I'm surprised Samoa weren't just banned from the outset for being big and mean looking on the pitch.

    Reply
  • guy
    11:08 AM 07/10/2015

    This ban seems kind of ridiculous. The Samoan guy that jumped into the tackle that knocked a Japanese player out cold, seemed more citeable to me. Especially since jumping into a tackle is not allowed.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    11:01 AM 07/10/2015

    That's what you get for going too low with poor body position. If you throw yourself directly in front of someone's knees, 9 times out of 10 you're going to be tasting some kneecap. Ludicrous. Hooper gets 1 week for blatant foul play, Tuilagi gets 5 weeks for being a monstrous ball carrier.

    Reply


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