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.
The schedule for next year’s Tri-Nations competition has been released, and it will end with the Australia v New Zealand fixture in Brisbane just two weeks before the 2011 World Cup begins with the All Blacks hosts taking on Tonga on September 9.
The Springboks’ last match is against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on August 20.
There are two ways of looking at this:
1. The Tri-Nations teams could peak going into the World Cup
2. The teams could be burnt out by the time they get into the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Perhaps a third alternative is that it could benefit the Springboks (who finish the Tri-Nations one week earlier) than Australia and New Zealand.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Thierry Henry admitted he handled the ball in the build-up to William Gallas’s goal against Ireland on Wednesday night. That goal meant that France avoided having to go into a penalty shoot-out to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Henry shrugged off the controvery saying he’s not the referee. But isn’t that like a criminal saying it’s okay to rob banks because it’s actually the job of the police to catch him?
I’m beginning to think that France should be exiled from world football. Read More…
Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian superstar who keeps setting new batting records, is the Jonah Lomu of world cricket.
Little Master is one of the few batsmen to have scored centuries against every Test-playing nation.
But there is just one team he has never beaten while scoring a century against them – and that is South Africa.
Three times he has scored 100s against South Africa – all of them in South Africa – and twice he’s been on the losing side, and the third his team drew.
His highest Test score at home against South Africa is 97, in Mumbai in February 2000, and India still lost that match.
Lomu, the massive bulldozing All Black rugby winger, never managed to score a Test try against South Africa.
There is no doubt that Ras Dumisani butchered the South African anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
But let’s face it, it’s not the first time the South African anthem has been messed up. When Johnny du Plooy challenged Francesco Damiani for the newly created WBO heavyweight title in Sicily in 1989, organisers played God Save The Queen instead of Die Stem. Read More…
The Sports ministry has released a second statement, this time on Thursday evening. Here it is:
Thursday, 12 November 2009
To: News Editors & Sport Editors
For Immediate Release
Subject: Mr. Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira
The problems encountered by Mr Mtawarira with his Zimbabwe passport, have exposed a dangerous situation. A situation where sport administrators clearly do not know South African Laws or simply do not respect our Laws.
We must state up front our admiration for the gifted Zimbabwean prop forward. He is a live wire on the Rugby field. But just like he must obey the rules of Rugby on the field, he must comply with the Laws of South Africa in life here on our land, like all of us.
According to the President as well as the CEO of the SARU, “The Beast” IS NOT A CITIZEN of South Africa. He does not even have a permit for permanent residence in South Africa. The CEO of The Sharks corroborates these facts and makes the interesting remarks: “There has never been any issue about his nationality.”
The issue here is NOT HIS Nationality. It is his citizenship. He has never applied for a South African citizenship or passport. Of course he would not get a passport if he was not our citizen. This is the law that all citizens in all countries respect. What is wrong with some of our Compatriots? No sport can be bigger than South Africa!
The officials of the SARU even inform us that Mr. Mtawarira “is currently on an exceptional skills visa (work permit).” If such a work permit was issued on the basis of his skills as a prop forward, the concept “scarce skills” was vulgarised. The Sharks or any Provincial Unit or Professional Club may motivate for the issuing of a work permit for a limited number of foreign players or administrators. Such application must be accompanied by a COMPELLING motivation.
Most important still, sports leaders should be the first to understand why NATIONAL TEAMS cannot play foreigners, no matter how outstanding they may be. Morné Steyn cannot represent New Zealand, Dan Carter cannot represent Wales, Wayne Rooney cannot play for Bafana Bafana. The list goes on.
Federations, Provinces and Clubs are more than welcome to approach us for advice on these issues. To simply rely on slipping through the legal framework (as the CEO of the Sharks seems to be doing) is very dangerous and negligent. Let us take our country more seriously. Only citizens of a country may represent that country.
Issued by Ministry: Sport & Recreation S.A
Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira is out of the Springbok team because he is not a South African national – even though he has already played 15 Tests in the green and gold.
The SA Rugby Union (Saru) had recently asked sport minister Makhenkesi Stofile to help expedite the Zimbabwe-born prop’s South African citizenship, but in a statement on Wednesday night Stofile’s ministry accused the union of poor administration.
“This request to have the Minister use his position to have the process of securing permanent residence and subsequently, citizenship expedited ahead of the year end tour in Europe, has exposed our sport administrators’ clear disrespect or lack of understanding of our laws,” the ministry said.
“Talented as he is, Tendai, like all foreign nationals plying their trade in South Africa, is bound by the laws of this country. The migration laws of our country are clear on issues relating to permanent residence and citizenship. We expect our sport administrators to understand and respect legislation that regulate their business. None of the athletes, sport codes, or federations can be bigger than the country.”
Mtawarira, who is in France with the Bok team, was one of the stars of the side that beat the touring British Lions earlier this year.
“While Tendai is a live wire on the field of play, the question is whether it is, in the first place, justifiable to say he has scarce skills – the rationale that would have enabled him to obtain the current work permit. If we go the route our rugby administrators are requesting us to take, and facilitate the fast-tracking of Tendai’s citizenship, what would this say to all rugby players in our country? We cannot as a
government department responsible for sport and recreation in this country, afford to insult our players like this.
“The principle here is clear: Only citizens of our country can play for our National team, irrespective of the sport code. Therefore, no foreign national can play for any of our national teams, no matter how
outstanding they may be. If any player in any code is to become a South African citizen, this has to be done within the legal framework of our country.
“Federations, provinces and clubs, are more than welcome to approach us for advice on similar issues, instead of trying to slip a player through the legal framework.”
Veterans Day may be specific to the United States, but here in South Africa I recently saw an elderly gent in uniform collecting money for former soldiers.
He was at a shopping mall, and he asked my wife not to deposit notes into his tin, but rather coins, because his previous donations had been stolen.
Apparently robbers watched him from a distance and after they saw him receiving notes, they targeted him. How sad!!
As a kid I knew many people who had fought during World War II, but naturally, not anymore. A person who turned 18 in 1945 would now be 82.
Sport, of course, had its share of WW2 veterans. I once interviewed tennis star Eric Sturgess, who was a fighter pilot and ended up in the prisoner of war camp featured in the Steve McQueen movie, The Great Escape.
There were Springbok rugby players like Francis Mellish, John Aspey and Okey Geffen, also prisoners of war in Africa.
Australian cricketer Keith Miller, a pilot, also saw action.
And there were also boxers, including then reigning world heavyweight champion Joe Louis and the man who nearly beat him, Billy Conn.
These old veterans are the last living link between us and the past – let’s treasure them because before long they’ll all be gone.