Lions flanker Michael Rhodes was deservedly banned until the end of July for his dangerous headlock on Siale Piutau last Saturday.
But Piutau, who punched Rhodes twice in the head in retaliation, was let off the hook because of the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding his case.
“Whilst the player admitted to foul play he had been seriously compromised in the incident involving Rhodes,” judicial officer Nick Davidson said.
“Piutau’s reaction was that of someone who had been seriously endangered and to impose a sanction in these circumstances would not reflect the effect on Piutau of the incident and a reaction that was the product of shock rather than retaliatory intent.”
Excuse me? What was he smoking?
How many rugby players haven’t been the victims of dangerous play? Stiff-arms, clean-outs, high tackles, you name it – since when have they been allowed to punch back?
Judge Jeff Blackett, who chaired the hearing, said Tuilagi should have been suspended for 10 weeks, saying his actions were “very damaging to the image of the game”. But his ban was halved because of his youth, admission of guilt, remorse and that he was considered to have been provoked by Ashton.
For as long as I have been watching rugby – since the 1970s – retaliation has never been considered an appropriate defence for punching. No matter the provocation.
Punching on the rugby field is illegal. Period.
But the decision to let Piutau off without any sanction raises a dangerous precedent in rugby (it also sets a terrible example for school kids).
You can bet that Davidson’s ruling is going to be used in disciplinary hearings during the upcoming Rugby World Cup – which kicks off in just more than 100 days – to defend the inevitable flying fists.
What Davidson has effectively done is told players that punching can be okay. He has just approved vigilantism; fighting thuggery with thuggery.
He should have at least given Piutau a slap on the wrist, banning him for one match, maybe two or three.
The bottom line is that Davidson’s decision should have echoed the ethos of rugby – punching is not okay.
Anti-doping testers beware! There’s a new product that is impossible to detect.
The problem is that drug cheats don’t actually ingest this substance – they slip it to their rivals instead.
It’s performance-reducing dope, and if you believe recently dethroned South African junior-bantamweight champion Themba Joyi, a dose of this muti caused his defeat by Unathi Gqokoma last weekend.
Joyi is reportedly suffering from a mystery illness, the symptoms of which include a lameness on his left side, following his 10th-round TKO defeat.
First came the shouting, then the gunshot.
Terry Pettifer had been catching up with his oldest friend, Eric Clayton, at a hotel bar. They were in their late 20s at the time and life had taken them in different directions, but the bond they had forged as kids was still strong.
Clayton popped out of the pub at one point and the commotion started soon after. Realising his buddy was in the fracas, Pettifer stood up – and that’s when he heard the shot.
Pettifer and Clayton, products of Regents Park, in Joburg’s south, had grown up fighting side-by-side, though sometimes, just for the hell of it, they brawled with each other.
After Sergio Martinez knocked out Paul Williams with a single punch to keep his world middleweight title, promoter Lou DiBella suggested Manny Pacquiao would be too scared to step up one more division to face the Argentinian boxer.
That’s a bit unfair.
There is no reason for Pacquiao to step up to middleweight (unless he wants to). If he keeps stepping up, he’ll eventually run into somebody who is simply too strong for him.
Anyway, the only fight for Pacman is Floyd Mayweather.
When I first saw Unathi Gqokoma, making his professional debut in 2005, I was impressed.
The southpaw fighter lost his opening fight on points, but he showed power by knocking his opponent down in the opening round, as well as speed when he boxed early on.
He also displayed heart getting up from a knockdown a little later.
Gqokoma lost the bout because he tried to brawl after scoring that early knockdown, with an impressive right hook.
He got a crack at the SA junior-bantamweight title a couple of years later, against wily veteran Zolile Mbityi, and after looking good for a round-and-a-half, inexplicably switched to orthodox and took a hiding for the rest of the bout.
On Sunday he fights again for the SA title, now held by Themba Joyi, who dethroned Mbityi.
I haven’t seen Gqokoma in action for some time – I’ll be interested to see if he has improved in the skills and strategy department.
I hope so – he was a real talent with plenty of promise.
Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer of all time, says promoter Bob Arum, who has worked with legends like Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali.
Arum, who has also worked with Floyd Mayweather, believes that Pacquiao dominates with both fists in a way nobody else has.
Imagine if, just before the 2010 soccer World Cup final, Spain and Holland decided not to play.
Can you even think of a scenario in which the two teams simply walk away, each claiming bragging rights as world champs without actually settling the matter on the pitch?
The idea seems too ludicrous to comprehend, but that is exactly the situation facing boxing if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fail to slug it out.
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