USA ladies winger Naya Tapper has been suspended from the entire Dubai Sevens Tournament following a bizarre incident that took place during the Test against France last weekend. In seconds, Tapper somehow ended up taking out two French players.
It’s been a busy week for World Rugby’s citing commissioners of late, with a plethora of incidents, cards and suspensions from the various end-of-year internationals.
While some have been fairly clear cut – Elliot Daly’s sending off against Argentina and Will Skelton’s yellow for a charge versus Scotland – others have been more ambiguous, such as the yellow card and subsequent ban on USA women’s winger Tapper.
The incident itself was relatively innocuous as Tapper inadvertently struck French player Pauline Rayssac, unfortunately knocking the Montpellier flanker out cold. Tapper also appeared to make contact with full back Laura Delas who made the tackle.
The reaction from her team-mates and officials afterwards was highly commendable as it wasn’t clear how badly injured Rayssac was.
The incident as a whole was referred to the TMO to check for potential foul play. The clash with Rayssac was deemed accidental but the second strike on Delas prompted referee Rose La Breche to hand Tapper a yellow card.
In the disciplinary hearing that followed, Tapper denied that she committed an act of foul play.
Whether there was sufficient intent or not is unclear, but she subsequently copped a three week suspension for her actions – meaning she will miss the upcoming Dubai 7s tournament in which she was due to compete.
A World Rugby statement said: “Ms Tappar was therefore suspended from playing rugby for a total of three weeks. In light of Ms Tappar’s forthcoming playing schedule (including many matches in international Sevens tournaments), the Disciplinary Committee imposed a suspension covering the entirety of the forthcoming World Rugby’s Dubai Sevens tournament, and she will be free to play again as of 3 December 2016, when that tournament has been completed.”
France went on to win the match 31-6 in Montpellier.
Were Tappar’s actions intentional, or did the law come down harshly on her?