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Friday Apr 24, 2015

Force scrumhalf Ian Prior red carded for ugly tip-tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams

Force scrumhalf Ian Prior red carded for ugly tip-tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams

Force scrumhalf Ian Prior received his marching orders in the first half of the round 11 Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs earlier today. Prior was shown a straight red card, so will face a disciplinary hearing, charged with Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground.

Prior rushed in to fill a gap as the dangerous Tim Nanai-Williams took a pop ball off the side of a ruck. The Chiefs flyer dropped it, but Prior had already lined him up, and not only went through with the tackle, but proceeded to lift and tip him in a way that was clearly dangerous.

The Force number nine realised immediately what he’d done and tried to apologise, but Nanai-Williams, and more significantly referee Angus Gardner, were having none of it.

Replays showed just how dangerous a tackle it was, as the legs were lifted way past horizontal and, perhaps due to momentum, Nanai-Williams was driven into the turf.

His citing falls under the charge of Law 10.4 (j), Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.

Prior looked remorseful, and a little stunned, but players need to be fully aware of what can happen when lifting another player up in a challenge, even it’s not intentional.

The Chiefs went on to win the match 35-27.

UPDATE: Prior has been suspended for 3 weeks. View the disciplinary hearing release

credit: NZAUTV Sports

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC has accepted a guilty plea from Ian Prior of the Force for contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Prior has been suspended from all forms of the game for three weeks up to and including Sunday 17 May 2015. SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC assessed the case.

In his finding, Hampton ruled the following: 

“I viewed a number of angles of the incident which clearly showed the actions and reactions of the two players involved in the tackle, Ian Prior, the tackler and Tim Nanai-Williams, the tackled Chiefs’ player, were able to be seen.  

“It was submitted that this was a tackle similar to a previous case in 2015 (Liam Gill, March 2015) which I did not accept. The Gill tackle was an unusual and uncommon manoeuvre whereas this tackle fell into the relatively commonplace for lifting tackles. 

“The tackled player was fortunately not injured through a combination of good fortune and his own attempts to break his descent. I found the incident to be at the lower end entry level for sanctioning purposes which has an entry point of four weeks.

“Prior had positioned himself for a high impact collision with Nanai-Williams who, momentarily before impact, had lost the ball, slowed himself down and brought himself into a more upright position, which altered the situation.

“Prior had shut his eyes as he went into the tackle and was unprepared for such an altered situation.

“This meant the tackle effected was completely different to what the player had anticipated in terms of the changed momentum and stance of the tackled player. Realising that he had “lost control of the tackle”, Prior tried to release the tackled player who went to ground at a dangerous angle with some force.

“An aggravating factor to be taken into account is the need for a deterrent for these tackles. Lifting tackles have been sought to be eliminated from the game and yet still remain. I added a week to the suspension as a deterrent.

“Mitigating factors that I took into account include the player’s good record, his shame at letting his teammates down during the match and his early acceptance of guilt and genuine contrition for his actions. As a result of these factors, I reduced the suspension to three weeks which was accepted by the player.

“The Force have two matches followed by a bye in Round 14. I was told the player, who has had little match time during Super Rugby this year as a result of playing off the bench, was expected to play a club game for his club, Nedlands during the bye to continue developing his match fitness.

“I sought direct evidence from the Force coach, Michael Foley who provided details of Force players being released in previous bye weekends to play in the Perth Premier Grade Competition when available. I was satisfied that this match was meaningful and should be included in his suspension.  

“Therefore, the player is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including 17 May 2015.”

All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process. For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.


  • biggrizzo
    10:08 PM 29/04/2015

    I agree with you about the ref being right on the spot so he should make a definite call, but I think he went upstairs to check his decision to give him a red card was correct. As we all know a red card can make a huge impact on a game especially if it only warranted a yellow. So I'm sure if it was your team you'd like the ref to make sure he got it right?

  • biggrizzo
    3:09 AM 29/04/2015

    that wasn't a punch...

  • stroudos
    2:27 PM 28/04/2015

    @oldflyhalf - This is a very unfortunate incident and I don't disagree with you highlighting it in this way. But I would like to point out that your video shows a tackle in rugby league, not union, where 2-3 tacklers combine to put the ball-carrier in an awkward position. Thankfully that sort of combination is less likely to occur in our code.

  • stroudos
    2:22 PM 28/04/2015

    We've seen it happen a few times now haven't we? I hyptothesise that, notwithstanding oldflyhalf's tragic example of a one-off freak occurrence (btw, in League with 2-3 tacklers combining to get the guy in an awkward situation), the actual probability of getting injured from a tip tackle has been exaggerated and distorted. So the personal risk versus likelihood of having one of your opponents removed from the pitch for at least 10 minutes must be quite tempting. Must say though, I think in this case - as you suggest at one point - Nanai-Williams is actually putting his arms out to try and break his fall, rather than cynically inverting himself. BUT - I've been lifted in a tackle on a number of occasions every single time my instinct was to cling on to the tackler's shoulders and brace myself for the landing, breaking my own fall with a roll to the side and an arm-slap on the ground. As instructed by my Judo teacher when I was a little kid - in rugby and elsewhere the instinct and technique that guy showed me has saved me from injury more times than I like to remember. It's a much safer way to fall - putting your hands out in front risks breaking your wrists, arms and face, as well as likely putting your neck at risk, (aiming to land on your upper back, you can tuck your chin in to avoid landing head-first). So, in conclusion - *some* players are either cynically trying to milk penalties at the same time as making a mockery of laws introduced for their own safety - or they need to take some judo lessons (or parachute jumping for that matter) and learn how to break their fall responsibly.

  • stroudos
    2:05 PM 28/04/2015

    Exactly my thoughts on first view. The ref has a better view than anyone. I believe he was just confirming in his own mind whether to issue red or yellow card. I infer from your comment that, like me, you'd rather see refs back themselves to make the right call, minimising the impact of stoppage time on the game. Trust the bloke to do his job, I say. Most of them usually manage to do so. And, as you also say, multiple video angles often produce more doubt and ambiguity than clarity.

  • bunn
    4:44 PM 27/04/2015

    The correct decision is made, but how come the ref has to refer it to the TMO as it's six foot from him? And why does it take so long to make a decision? It's pretty clear that it's a red card offence from the off and watching it more times often make it more ambiguous

  • flanker2712
    3:10 PM 27/04/2015

    No argument with the decision, but... Does anyone else think Nanai-Williams contributes to the outcome? He seems to almost flip backwards towards the ground, and his right leg gets up pretty high without really being lifted all the way. Now, it might be that he did indeed flip himself round because he thought "If I'm going to be dumped, I'm going to at least try to get my arms down to break the fall". Just wondering if anyone else saw it like this. I think there were a few incidents of the "victim" doing more to turn a tackle into a spear than the tackler - one Bryan Habana incident springs to mind, but I'm sure there were others. Anyway, as I say, no argument with the decision and this just seemed to be a moment of stupidity from Prior.

  • oldflyhalf
    9:24 PM 26/04/2015

    ...pathetic, frustrated ? probably both.

  • oldflyhalf
    2:49 PM 26/04/2015

    No doubt. Red card. The rule in this matter is clear-cut. Please, remember you always what is a dangerous tackle and its the implications.

  • drg
    7:38 PM 25/04/2015

    I believe he was referring to the punch thrown by Nanai-williams....

  • jmehrtens
    5:19 PM 25/04/2015

    Boxing: the art of pushing an opponent until he doesn't stand up anymore. But you are right: it was justified Retaliation is always "justified"

  • biggrizzo
    12:28 PM 25/04/2015

    Ian Prior is Australian. Your point is invalid now.

  • 10stonenumber10
    9:52 AM 25/04/2015

    If you're going to diss "The King", at least spell his name right. While everyone is getting so xenophobic, what about Du Plessis's ridiculously short ban for kicking someone in the head/neck? Far more violent than l'il Timmy's reaction.

  • 3:44 AM 25/04/2015

    Well said Justin Marshall


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Force scrumhalf Ian Prior red carded for ugly tip-tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos