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Monday Aug 7, 2017

Kwagga Smith banned for 4 weeks after red card challenge in Super Rugby Final

Kwagga Smith banned for 4 weeks after red card challenge in Super Rugby Final
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Lions flanker Kwagga Smith has been suspended for 4 weeks after pleading guilty to contravening Law 10.4(i), after he was red carded for taking out fullback David Havili in the air during Saturday’s Super Rugby Final loss to the Crusaders in Johannesburg.

The red card, recognised as being the correct call in line with current World Rugby directives, had an impact on the match, as the Lions had to fight hard for a full half with just 14 men.

While all the talk pre-match was about the lack of neutral referees, South African Jaco Peyper showed his nerve and made the decision – along with his TMO – to send Smith from the field after a poorly mistimed challenge on the man in the air. 

The SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee accepted a guilty plea from Smith on Monday, for contravening Law 10.4(i): Tackling, pushing, pulling, colliding with or otherwise making contact with an Opponent who is jumping for the ball in a line out or in open play where there is no realistic prospect of the player competing for the ball.

In his finding, Foul Play Review Committee Chairman Nigel Hampton QC ruled the following:

“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 8 weeks. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the Player’s good Judicial record and the Player’s admission of guilt at the first available opportunity the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 4 weeks.”

The incident, more reckless than malicious, highlights the possible need for a look at the effect red cards have on matches, specifically when accidental.

Both coaches agreed that the sending off affected the outcome of the contest, leaving a Cup Final with 40 minutes of an uneven contest.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann reiterated his his opinion on the matter post match.

“I don’t think 62 000 people paid to see a 15 versus 14 game,” said the former Springbok, now heading off to couch Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership.

“The player can get disciplined afterwards, and I’ll stand by that, especially if it’s not out of the law in the sense that it’s a kick to the face or a punch or dirty play.

“I can’t say too much… I have to respect what the officials say. One must take into account that if a player jumps in the air going forward, where does he go if somebody touches his legs.”

The incident could be seen in the official match highlights, but can also be watched below

19 Comments

  • whiteafrican
    4:09 PM 17/08/2017

    See above - how do you plan to ban jumping? What do you define as a "jump"? You can't run without having both feet in the air half the time. If you forced players to plant a foot before catching the ball, you will make catching kicks much harder, which makes kicking a more attractive option, which is hardly something rugby needs. The only sensible option is the current one. First player there has all rights to the ball. Tackler has to avoid touching him in the air. If you're the tackler, don't get into that zone unless you are in a realistic position to contest the catch. Wait till he lands, then smash him. (And in answer to your question, that's different because a player already on the ground has much more control over how they fall than a player who is in mid-air). Players jump like that every week, and hardly anybody gets red carded because most players stick to the rules. The only person to blame in this case is Kwagga Smith. He knew the laws, he broke them, it's his own fault, as he himself admitted afterward.

    Reply
  • whiteafrican
    4:00 PM 17/08/2017

    Havili got there first by a mile. Smith was, in the words of the ref, "never in a realistic position to contest for the ball". First player there has all rights to the ball. Tackler has to avoid touching him in the air. You can see Red 12 doing that calculation in his head as he chases the ball - he's working out where he needs to be to tackle Havili on landing. Smith doesn't bother - he just goes hell for leather and stuff the Havili's safety. Deserved red card.

    Reply
  • whiteafrican
    3:53 PM 17/08/2017

    This is frankly absurd. How would you ban jumping? What constitutes a "jump"? If player is sprinting and happens to have both feet of the ground at the moment when he catches the ball, does he break your new rule? Or does he have to achieve a certain height? What would be the cut-off, and how would it be measured? Does the TMO get a tape-measure? The laws as they stand are perfectly sensible. If you can't contest the catch, don't touch the player in the air - smash him when he hits the ground. As for the effectiveness of the red card, I guarantee you that Kwagga Smith will rethink his approach to that type of scenario in future. That said, I would back changing a red card to a combination of: (1) 20 minutes in the bin; (2) the red carded player cannot come back on but can be replaced once the 20 minutes end; and (3) a longer ban for the red carded player, after the game. Also, the bans need to apply to games at the same level or at a higher level (so a ban incurred in Super Rugby could cover Super Rugby and Tests, but not meaningless provincial games).

    Reply
  • idleman
    11:34 AM 14/08/2017

    I think unfortunately the nature of a Red card does effect the contest - and 14 vs 15 is a bit of a no contest if the sides are pretty evenly matched to start. However blatant foul play, kicks to the head, punching etc no issue with the red. A player "ducking" into a tackle what results in a high tackle - needs to be looked at on its merits. In my opinion, jumping into the air at speed moving forward with your feet the same height at the oncoming players face - is quite simply as serious disaster just waiting to happen, and I honestly believe that if World Rugby is serious about player welfare and safety, the jump needs to be outlawed. Failing that, I have no doubt that when a player breaks his neck from being hit in the air (intentionally or unintentionally) a red card will not help the now paraplegic nor will it console his family.

    Reply
  • im1
    3:48 PM 11/08/2017

    you need to read the World Ruby May 2015 guidlines for implementing law 10.4(i) here. http://laws.worldrugby.org/?domain=9&guideline=8 Agreed the law as it is written isn't as clear as it could be though.

    Reply
  • hebe
    10:51 PM 10/08/2017

    ?? did you not see Hafili chasing the same ball at 100mph? Then launching himself into the air 800ms before slamming into Smith with his knee. Smith had equal right to chase the ball and he would have caught it if Hafili had not slammed into him.

    Reply
  • hebe
    10:43 PM 10/08/2017

    I agree. Look carefully at the slow mo and you'll see that there were dangerous actions by all three players. 2 accidental and 1 (Hafili) purposefully dangerous. It looked to me like a well rehearsed action geared to milking a red card.

    Reply
  • hebe
    10:37 PM 10/08/2017

    Interesting view of the Qwagga saga. Local news reported : Cape Town - The SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee has accepted a guilty plea from Lions flank Kwagga Smith for contravening Law 10.4(i) Tackling, pushing, pulling, colliding with or otherwise making contact with an opponent who is jumping for the ball in a line out or in open play where there is no realistic prospect of the player competing for the ball, after he was red carded during the Super Rugby final on Saturday. My copy of the laws says :( copied from World Rugby Laws of the Game Rugby Union 2017 ) 10.4(i) Tackling the jumper in the air. A player must not tackle nor tap, push or pull the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball in a lineout or in open play. So, if you apply this version of law 10.4(i), the only possible conclusion is 1) Qwagga did not tackle the player 2) Qwagga did not tap, push or pull the foot of the opponent. SANZAAR also said: "Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including a statement from the player and submissions from his legal representative, Attie Heyns, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the ordering off and amended the charge from Law 10.4(e) to Law 10.4(i)." ( Very interesting that they changed the charge at the hearing and added some extra wording ). If the above statement is true then how could they not have seen and note that Fili's decent was altered by a Crusaders player causing Fili to land on his neck and shoulders". So, if their interpretation of the law and their additional wording is correct , then that Crusaders player should also have been charged with "making contact with an opponent who is jumping for the ball" i.e. red card.

    Reply
  • heavyhooker
    8:41 PM 10/08/2017

    I am sick and tired of the jumping into contact to catch a ball and Havili didn't even catch it. How is intentionally jumping 6 ft into the air and risking a hit that will drop you onto your neck any different for injury potential than a defender waiting just that split second and smashing a jumping player as they land, whiplashing their head (aka concussion) and then being slammed into the ground? Havili jumped into the oncoming player with his knees at head level; that should be a dangerous play resulting in a penalty, because had Smith stopped, Havili would have smashed his knees into Smith. You jump, accept the consequences like in Aussie rugby and League. Stupid play, accept the potential repercussions of your actions.

    Reply
  • dancarter
    6:42 PM 09/08/2017

    Definitely. You can't risk the safety of players just to give the fans a more enjoyable experience. The referees are primarily there to ensure the safety of the players, and trying to make it a free-flowing and enjoyable game will always be secondary to that.

    Reply
  • drg
    3:51 PM 09/08/2017

    I guess the issues are that each team these days are fielding players are sort of maximum physical attributes, therefore the game is won and lost generally speaking on minuscule events. So running fast, retrieving the ball and going again will give you a tiny bit more of an advantage... for instance, running and retrieving the ball and making a break could make you a hero, but evidently, messing up can land you in hot water...

    Reply
  • im1
    11:26 AM 09/08/2017

    why don't the players stop chasing high balls at 100mph without thinking about what could happen if a player jumps late? Its not hard. Smith could and should have slowed down earlier and then smashed Havili and made his team 25 meters, with the chance of the next man in turning Havili over

    Reply
  • drg
    11:02 AM 09/08/2017

    But players aren't being ejected....A lot of games where players are carded of late seem to be high stakes games where one could argue the pressure of the moment clouded the players thinking. It's hard for me to argue this red card because I don't massively agree with how these incidents are being dealt with, but cards in general have a fair reasoning behind them and I don't think fining people after the fact is particularly helpful. As I said, the sport is a team sport and at risk of sounding a bit lame, we are all 'brothers' and we all triumph through collective brilliant play and we all fail through collective poor play, we also accept triumph with individual brilliant play, therefore we should accept hardships that come with individual poor play.

    Reply
  • finedisregard
    1:17 AM 09/08/2017

    If players are getting kicked out every game we need to look at the laws as being unreasonable and unrealistic. Why not just a penalty? In the case of professionals why not simply a monetary fine ala NFL? Red cards should only go for really egregious, mean-spirited, or repeated infractions. Foul play has always been a part of rugby and always will. Power plays are not.

    Reply
  • drg
    4:18 PM 08/08/2017

    Most of the injuries we see in these types of play tend to be to the red carded player who either gets an arse to the face or catches a knee to the head/face. As you said, it does look bad, maybe there is potential for it to be bad. I'm sure there have been a few incidents over the many years, maybe even at grass roots level and I suspect there possibly will be something serious occur ONE day, but overhyped is definitely a description I agree with. I think I've been on the wrong side (against red cards for these things) for so long that my boundaries are shifting... I still see this as a last second jump, but as everyone consistently points out, players are expected to think about the actions of the opposition more and more, I disagree with this, but I guess we all have to change somehow.. I do however boast that I am not particularly one eyed, so I can see this incident and say as much as I don't agree with the laws and terminology, they are the current standards that are set and as such players agree to them when they take to the field, failure to uphold their end results in punishment.... it's simple really, and as sad as it is for Kwagga to end a final like that, it is not as if it's an unknown rule or a painful second yellow... etc..

    Reply
  • im1
    2:59 PM 08/08/2017

    Kwagga Smith ruined the contest by being reckless. With perfectly reaonsable foresight, he couls have avoided the collision. That's if it could be called a contest at that point in the game.... Perhaps Ackermann should have devoted a little bit more time during training sessions to coach his players how to chase a kick safely. I still think the danger of these incidents are overhyped. Havili was fine. It looks really bad but how many serious injuries have there been out of all the red cards that have been given? How many red card offences have resulted in the offended against player having to leave the field of play. Falling from 5/6 foot onto your head/shoulder/back isn't fun, but I would rather that than a 19 stone shoulder rearranging my face.

    Reply
  • drg
    2:37 PM 08/08/2017

    "The ref taking a player off the field is a really extreme move in team sports. It creates an incredible advantage and ruins the contest. The punishment does not fit the crime." I don't understand this thought process, "ruins the contest".. In the pro level - You have 15 professional players, all these players have class room sessions, gym session, fitness sessions, within all those discipline is most probably instilled - or attempted to be instilled. The beauty of the sport is it requires aggression - sometimes the more aggressive a player is the better, but it cannot be blind aggression, it all has to be controlled. If players cannot control themselves, in either a violent form or just an ill disciplined form, then why should they be on the pitch, and why should a team that fields a player like that be rewarded. Take the past with Jamie Cudmore, probably not the best second row out there, but pretty formidable, why should Clermont be rewarded by Cudmore being allowed to have Cudmores skill out on the pitch without any risk of punishment for his ill discipline. Take the Lions for instance between test 2 and test 3, people were talking about how brilliant Vunipolas potential is, but how much of a brain fart he was having in test 2 and whether he was worth the risk for test 3... Having been on the receiving end of a few yellow cards (no reds), I can firmly say I deserved most of them and that the reality is, I knew I was being a dick and I was getting away with a lot before I was caught a couple times... The only other way I can see an alternative is a mandatory substitution, however this doesn't disadvantage a team, but teams are supposed to be cohesive and work together, so when one cog misbehaves it should affect the rest of the engine. I don't see an issue with cards.

    Reply
  • finedisregard
    1:20 PM 08/08/2017

    I'd argue that yellow and red cards are the bane of rugby and were a misguided attempt to "clean up" rugby for casual fans and especially mothers of children playing the game since the advent of professionalism. It has not worked. The ref taking a player off the field is a really extreme move in team sports. It creates an incredible advantage and ruins the contest. The punishment does not fit the crime. Red and yellow cards are not a core component of rugby. Change the laws, change the laws, change the laws.

    Reply
  • drg
    8:49 AM 08/08/2017

    I don't like that attitude of "it can affect a contest" or "I don't think 62,000 people paid to see 15v14", yeh sure we know the game thrives off views and it's good for the sport and all that, but frankly, the fans are the last people who should be thought about with a game. I mean, what it players tried little 'tricks' on the field, random little kicks or idk, pulling rabbits out of scrum caps, coaches would go mental and the player could respond "well, I thought the crowd might enjoy something different".... Haven't really had a good look at this incident yet, but at a glance it seems like a pretty straight forward case with the recent laws...

    Reply


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