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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 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.

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