It’s a sad day for Rugby in the Northern Hemisphere. Our top flight clubs competition has been marred by not one but four citings. If all four are proved the collective ban is likely to be in the region of 36 weeks!
First. Chris Ashton was cited for an alleged gouge on Ulster’s Luke Marshall. I have seen the footage and I am glad I am not on the citing panel. There is definite hand into the face and then the neck roll. Can I say categorically that he didn’t gouge? No. But neither can I say he didn’t. Luke Marshall was given medical treatment where the Ulster Medical Staff looked at his eyes in some detail. Sadly this brought out the Anti-Chris Ashton Mob onto social media.
Second. This is probably the most bizarre of the whole weekend. Glasgow Warrior Ryan Wilson has been cited for allegedly grabbing the anatomy of Lee Dickson at Franklins Gardens. Wilson has been tipped to be likely named in the Vern Cotters Scotland side for the upcoming Six Nations. Wilson missed last year's competition when he was suspended for three months without pay by Scotland following a conviction for assaulting two Glasgow Hawks players on Halloween! At the low end this ban goes from 12 weeks to a whopping 208 weeks! That’s 4 years!
Third. A punch. A single solitary punch. We have all been there. We’ve all seen it. Handbags is the best way to put it. The referee sin binned Tim Swinson in the 75th minute but the games citing commissioner has deemed that there was enough to justify a citing hearing. I must admit I missed this.
Fourth. Newport and Gwent Dragons Captain Thomas Rhys Thomas allegedly bit Castres flanker Thomas Cabellero. This is another ban which can go from 12-208 weeks! T Rhys Thomas has played at the very highest level for Wales. He has run out for the Reds 27 times. Dragons fans should take note that a proven citing against Dylan Hartley gave him a 8 week ban.
There is a huge difference in citings when you look at the competitions. The RWC banned Sean O’Brien for only one week in last year’s competition. This is contrary to the yellow card shown to Pocock for the same offence in the RWC. Scotland fans will also remember the Ford and Gray incident where they cleared out Samoan Jack Lam. They were banned for three weeks as they deemed that “tackles involving a player being lifted off the ground and tipped horizontally and then either forced or dropped to the ground”. Scottish winger Kenny Logan said at the time “Pocock clearly knees Baldwin in the back but gets off with a slap on the wrist, and Ireland’s Sean O’Brien gets a week ban after a premeditated punch on Pascal Pape in full sight of the referee, while two Scottish players with a perfect disciplinary record get a three-week ban for clearing out a player with no malicious intent at a ruck just because he fell awkwardly.
“There is no level playing field. This is a shameful decision.”
The European cup has another set of unknown committee members which decide, the Guinness Pro 12, the Aviva Premiership, and the Top 14 all have their own too. Time to review these panels and apply the laws fairly across the board. If the culprits named above are guilty, fair enough. Then let’s see that decision roll out. I think Brett Gosper and the World Rugby Team need to get a grip of these individual competitions.
A very sad rugby day indeed.