Monday Sep 10, 2012 Eben Etzebeth banned for attempted headbutt on Nathan Sharpe

Eben Etzebeth banned for attempted headbutt on Nathan Sharpe
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Young Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has been suspended for two weeks for an attempted headbutt on veteran Wallaby Nathan Sharpe. The incident took place midway through the first half of the Perth Test match between the two sides.

Etzebeth was cited following the match after he was alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or Striking after he got in a minor scuffle with opposition second rower Sharpe.

At the time it looked as though no contact was made, but replays showed that foreheads made slight contact, which earlier today resulted in a two week ban for Western Province lock Etzebeth.

The citing commisioner deemed the incident to be worthy of a red card, and SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC suspended Etzebeth for two weeks after ruling the following:

“I was satisfied that this was not an attempt just to push the opposing player away by using his head without contact being made. The player brought his forehead forward and downward with a degree of speed and force into the nose area of the opposing player making contact with that player.

“This was a deliberate act done as a part of an episode of escalating “tit for tat” pushing and shoving between the two players. As to sanction, intentional striking with the head into the face of another is not to be countenanced under any circumstances.”

Etzebeth, who made his Springbok debut against England a few months ago, will miss the Test against the All Blacks this coming Saturday. He will likely be replaced in the squad by 32 year-old Bakkies Botha, who has been playing with Toulon in France.

“Bakkies is on stand-by,” explained coach Heyneke Meyer from Auckland on Monday. “We are in contact with Bakkies. We keep in touch with all the overseas-based players. The guys know who is on stand-by and exactly where they stand.”

Do you think players should be suspended when there is intent involved, or only if they make significant contact? Let us know in the comments below.

34 Comments

  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Don't think anyone is disputing that they've played rugby and never been in the mix of a situation, no one is disputing head butts happen... it is more a case of "do we let this one go because it was weak as piss, therefore creating a precedent where we have to measure the strength of any contact before deciding if its worthy of a ban" ..... I am all for the game of old where people sort out differences with a few attempted punches, followed by a sort of group hug as everyone tries to either get involved or separate the players, ending in a talking to by the referee, or worst case a yellow card. I despise the way players are not allowed to use the boot on a player lying on the wrong side. In fact I think the game has indeed "gone soft" but, I find it difficult to embrace the game of new which is judged by camera angles, video referee's, white cards, retrospective yellow cards (yeh wtf!) and every thing under the moon without it being clear cut and correct... The game of old, I'd have turned around and said, "honestly they even consider reviewing this?!?!?!" but the new game, its a case of "well it was a headbutt technically, and so where do we draw the line?" Take Berrick Barnes, nice guy I am sure, but he has a glass jaw... so if I punch him JUST hard enough to knock him flat should I get a yellow or red card for it? Especially seeing as the same punch on someone like Bakkies Botha would make him wonder why I am trying to tickle him... Probably a bad example, but get my drift? I'm not saying this would cause pain or injury to anyone, but how much force has to be applied for us to say "not hard enough, still not hard enough, AH yes, just crossed the line, it is now JUST hard enough to warrant a punishment".... We either over think the whole damn thing, or we ignore it altogether, which leaves us open for ignoring SERIOUS things...

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    He shoved EE after EE deliberately walked into him....

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  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Either that or Bakkies would have just been a Cudmore and spent more time serving suspensions than actually playing... but yeh I do get your point...

    Reply
  •  4lc4tr4z
    4lc4tr4z

    https://twitter.com/BakkiesBotha4/status/245601318306197504

    Reply
  •  4lc4tr4z
    4lc4tr4z

    Just about Bakkies Botha. https://twitter.com/BakkiesBotha4/status/245601318306197504https://twitter.com/BakkiesBotha4/status/245601318306197504 Meyer's in touch but finally just ddn't call him.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    I disagree that he made Sharpe "wet his pants" I think Sharpe was shocked that EE would even consider doing that, but if he had the gains would be far greater for the Wallabies so to some extent Sharpe probably thought "try it again"

    Reply
  •  rugby08
    rugby08

    Excellent summary Pretzel

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    I have to completely disagree with you here Shaun. 0:31 you see Nathan Sharpe with his back to us pointing at something... Etzebeth walks into him, and it was not accidental, it was a dig in its own. Sharpe pushes him and then walks towards him as if to say, "oh so you're tough then?" from here it Etzebeth would have grabbed him I'm sure a typical gentle scuffle would have occurred and that would have been it, but he takes it further and headbutts Sharpe. We can ALL agree it was probably one of the worlds weakest headbutts, but it was still a headbutt, Sharpe turns around almost bemused and says "did you see that".... If you also watch the video, at 0:37 you can see Bryan Habana come in looking AT Sharpe and trying to break up the scuffle, after the headbutt Habana looked enraged and is staring right at Etzebeth and he grabs Etzebeth. Everyone knows EE was an idiot for doing it. The fact remains that the game has changed in which players cannot retaliate. Look at POC v Cudmore, that was a few years ago now, POC took a fair few punches before he retaliated and he STILL got a yellow card for it... so players have to be smart, they have to understand that if they dish out their own justice they will be punished. I would love to see the game of old where bok players would look at EE after a match and say, well you did deserve a clock from Sharpe, but those days are gone. Rightly or wrongly I feel Sharpe reacted in a way which made perfect sense... it was an amused, bemused, bewildered, "WTF" look, he knew it didn't hurt, so he wasn't going to dive to the ground pretending to be mortally wounded, but he knew that kind of bollocks needs to be dealt with by the officials, because he himself is not allowed to deal with it as he'd like too....

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    As someone has already said: 1. If Sharpe floors EE, then he probably gets a red card and the Wallabies lose the match. 2. If he stands there like a robot then he's odd, and we all know its pointless and means nothing because he'd never throw a punch (see first point for reasons!)

    Reply
  •  rugby08
    rugby08

    I don't see anything wrong with what Sharpe did. He's an experienced player and he knew that young Eben would crack, and he did.

    Reply
  •  irishref
    irishref

    it's an interesting incident alright but officials cannot be seen to be anything less than consistent in applying the laws within the framework at their disposal. I do have a certain amount of understanding with the notion of it being very soft and rugby is a game for men etc etc, but when you put the boot on the other foot and try to think as if you were an official, then I think the situation becomes quite different. Referee here takes no blame, he is busy trying to clean up a bit of a scuffle and was no doubt unsighted at the moment of the incident itself. He chose not to use the white card and it was the citing commissioner who picked up on it. I believe contact was made, very briefly. Now at this point the citing commissioner cannot arbitrarily decide that the contact was too light to warrant a ban - his job is purely to assess whether a red card could have been given and if the answer is yes, a judicial hearing is forthcoming. I think the fact that the ban meted out was just 2 weeks tells us that whilst according to the letter of the law Etzebeth was in contravention of 10.4(a) - it was deemed about as low in seriousness as you can get for any headbut.

    Reply
  •  rugby08
    rugby08

    Agree it's ridiculous

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    No that is the kind of thinking which works with the rest of the world. If you want to determine what constitutes worthy contact then by all means go ahead. Personally I would hate that job, it would be pathetic, pedantic, pitiful and generally weak. Is a headbutt on Bakkies Botha as bad as a headbutt on say Peter Stringer?

    Reply
  •  ruppansy
    ruppansy

    I agree with you Pretzel. You gotta admit though that EE made Sharpe wet his pants. If EE really wanted to butt him, he would have. Silly 2 weeks - not sure who is more silly, the commissioner or Bruno!

    Reply
  •  ruppansy
    ruppansy

    I agree with you Pretzel. You gotta admit though that EE made Sharpe wet his pants. If EE really wanted to butt him, he would have. Silly 2 weeks - not sure who is more silly, the commissioner or Bruno!

    Reply
  • A headbutt is a headbutt in Rugby, it is illegal, therefore he gets banned...simple! It has been this way for years, nothing new. It wasnt huge contact, but thats why he only got 2 weeks. But they are professionals, they clearly understand the rules. Its all about discipline, and Etzebeth lacks in this department. This isnt the first time hes lost it, it happened against the Argies as well and that pretty much cost them the game. Sharpe used his brain...he has experience and discipline, he knows not to retaliate. He realized he had been headbutted, and knew Aussie would get a penalty or Etzebeth sin binned...Sharpe knows how to win, hes a professional! Etzebeth may become a liability to the Boks if he doesn't sort his discipline out. Teams will target him and try to get a reaction, knowing that he'll lose the plot!

    Reply
  •  peanutgallery
    peanutgallery

    That's the exact kind of thinking that resulted in Etzebeth getting banned. We have to use common sense and not mindlessly follow the rules exactly as they were written. When the law was made obviuously "contact" was used to differentiate between an unsuccessful and a successful attack, but no room was made for an attack that physically made contact contact but had no effect - like this one. By your defenition of contact being "physically making contact no matter how small" you are saying that there is no difference between what happened here and a headbutt that breaks a nose. To put it another way, if this had been a fighting contest, would that have been scored as a successful headbutt?

    Reply
  •  moddeur
    moddeur

    I'll be the first to agree that players in general should know better than to get into fights, given the amount of cameras around, and given that it takes their focus away from their game. In fact I really dislike it when some players keep on fighting while play goes on. But I don't see why shoving/grappling in a virile manner, or shoulderbutting in rucks should be considered "less condemnable" than pretending to give a headbutt. Perhaps the IRB needs to hire a few precogs to stop headbutts before they occur, to nip any form of intent in the bud. Or perhaps it's time for a "Real IRB" split from the mainstream? Because the more they'll punish this type of offence, and the more diving we're going to get.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    I have already posted a video in my comment about a weak headbutt. Learn the definition of contact, it matters not if it is the weakest contact or the hardest. How HARD do you have to touch the ball down over the try line for it to be a try? "Rugby terms" have nil to do with the fact his head made contact with Sharpe's head, this as well as the fashion in which the contact was made means that it can therefore be ruled as a headbutt... it was not an "Attempted headbutt" it was a successful headbutt... but as I already said, it needs someone to say "don't be a prick" and kick Etzebeth up the arse for even doing it, don't bother banning him...

    Reply
  • To me it looks like Eben just tried to scare Sharpie, i think if he really wanted to headbutt the old geezer with everything he had, he could have. @Pretzel - no dude, no contact was made, maybe if this was some physics experiment you could say that contact was made, but in rugby terms see the video underneath this one for what contact means.

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    I like the way everyone says that Sharpe was a little bitch for looking to the officials for help, because obviously Etzebeth is a real tough-guy; headbutting his opponent like that. If only he had done it while Sharpe wasn't looking; that would have been even more manly.

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    Maybe they expected something like this to happen. If they think looking for assistance from the officials was outrageous, shameful behaviour, and they obviously would have complained if he had headbutted him back, then this is the only remaining option I can think of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKvqXxsPDQk

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Never thought about the Stiffler resemblance to be honest but that's another good one. Makes me wonder what Stiffler's mom looks like, in this case....

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Good grief, I almost forgot about that one. I just had a good laugh all over again. A hooker being decked by a winger. I hope he still gets flagg for that at every Chrsitmas party he attends.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    @Matt, spoken like a true genius! Although I'd have loved to see a scrap between Sharpe and Etzebeth, we all know it would have probably ended in a yellow card for them both and no doubt some sort of bullshit ban. Sharpe has the experience to know the game is not what it was and that scrapping is dealt with harshly. To all those Sharpe "haters", what was he supposed to do? Matt has just mentioned that he'd be banned for reacting with a punch, so what other options does he have? Stop, turn around and walk away?!?!? Stand there dead still??? Fall over??? Appeal?

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    But if he swings back then he gets binned and banned too, how is that fair? He's using his brain rather than headbutting things, something which as I understand it is part of the game.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    I agree with everything you say but I feel it's a bit harsh to have a go at Sharpe. Part of the appeal of rugby is the confrontation and aggro between packs, but when someone comes out with a cheap shot like that I think he has every right to turn to the officials, diving on the floor would be another matter entirely. It is the best sport in the universe though.

    Reply
  •  stubby
    stubby

    contact was made. The rules are clear and so was the intent. Sharpe should be banned for searching for mommy after he got hit. What pussy i mean soccer i mean stupid thing to do. Are you a rugby player or an effing mouse? ANY player looking for mommy instead of playing the game is a douchebag.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    I'm not 100% sure, but it did look like he actually MADE contact, therefore 90% of the comments above mine are irrelevant. I get where you are all coming from though, I think if there had been NO contact at all then this would be an absolute travesty, but the fact there WAS contact makes it a "justified" travesty... if that makes sense... It was pathetic to say the least, I mean it brings home the age old video I often bring up, of a pathetic head butt that resulted in a red card: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rJrZdhtJQ4 There has to be; somewhere, someone with the brains to turn around and say, "yes technically, but come on lads grow a pair!" This was weak, but as Guy said, what kind of a clown is Etzebeth to even attempt that kind of crap. Look at gouging, how often did we see a player get banned for having hands in the vicinity of someones eyes with no attempt to gouge... Sadly it doesn't say much for the "brawn not brains" label that often gets stuck on second rows....

    Reply
  •  filth
    filth

    Nothing in that. Fuck I hate rugby officials. Absolute wankers who have never played the game before. Is it any wonder I'm watching Rugby League now days. Absolutely pathetic.

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Can't say I feel sorry for Bruno; for God's sake, there are dozens of camera's. Did he really expect to get away with it? Let's be happy it's just two weeks and hope he has learned his lesson. By the way: how hard he really hit him doesn't matter at all. If that is being considered in the punishment, it will just make the opposing players fall over more easily when they are being touched. We've seen a couple of examples of that behaviour in France recently and everybody despises that. And to be honest: Nathan Sharpe behaves like an absolute sissy in this video. He himself is one af the instigators but as soon as somebody tries something on him he goes looking for attention from the match officials. That's just as pathetic as falling over, especially considering (the lack of) force from the impact. All in all: not a good promotion for the best sport in the universe.

    Reply
  •  katman
    katman

    What a rubbish banning. Next we'll be banning players for intending to tackle high or late, whether they did or not.

    Reply
  •  andrewg
    andrewg

    Its a bit inconsistent if you consider how many punches are thrown that miss yet there is no sanction applied. The current rules suggest that you need contact first, not just intent. It was a stupid thing to do as headbutting is right up there for longest bans if guilty, but to get 2 weeks ban for not really landing anything seems a bit harsh.

    Reply
  •  eggman
    eggman

    Seems pretty harsh to ban him.. Nothing happened.. If the ref didnt pick up on it during the game just forget about it. Even if the ref saw something I don't think a card or even a penalty should have been given. Just tell him to calm down and not to do it again Etzebeth should try to keep a cooler head though.

    Reply

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