Sydney Rays flanker Gareth Bautz has been suspended for three weeks following the red card he picked up during the NRC Round 7 match against the Canberra Vikings at the weekend. Bautz showed remorse immediately but will still sit out for the next few weeks.
Bautz planted his feet to make the dominant tackle on Wharenui Hawera, but lifted and drove him into the ground, with Hawera only saved from injury due to getting his arms out in front.
Referee Jordan Way saw it that way and was clear with his decision, one that Bautz accepted.
A National Rugby Championship (NRC) judicial hearing in Sydney saw the flanker plead guilty to contravening Law 10.4 (j) ‘Lifting a player from the ground and either dropping or driving that player’s head and/or upper body into the ground whilst the player’s feet are off the ground.’
Judicial Officer Steve Hardy found that the conduct was in the low end for this offence and as a result, Bautz has been suspended for three weeks.
Judging by the reactions all round, this was another case of bad tackle execution leading to a dangerous situation, and it showed that regardless of your intent, you must take into account the other player’s welfare and make sure that you bring him to ground safely.
The lifting and physical dominance may have been okay initially, but twisting and driving to ground is a textbook example of how not to tackle in 2017.
We saw it done correctly – albeit controversially – on the same weekend when Owen Farrell dumped Ben Foden, even if that did lead to a big scuffle.