The tip tackle.
IRB/World Rugby say (Taken ad verbatim from the IRB Player Welfare page)
Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground first is dangerous play.
Sanction: Penalty kick - At a subsequent IRB High Performance Referee Seminar at Lensbury referees were advised that for these types of tackles they were to start at red card as a sanction and work backwards.
So.... where does this safe landing bollocks come from then?? That was the explanation given for BOTH of these following incidents only being yellow cards. George Kruis last week, George Pisi this week have got away with 2 horrific examples of a tip tackle.Click the links to see the incidents in question- Kruis tip tackle - Pisi's tackle (skip to 55 seconds).
Kruis received a retrospective 3 week ban, (which frees him up just in time for the 6 nations opening game vs Wales in the absence of Lawes and Launchbury.... despite low entry offences carrying a 4 week ban....coincidence??)
Pisi has been widely condemned for his tackle on Biggar, which like the Kruis tackle on Halaifonua ended with the defensive player breaking the fall with their hand. Pisi has yet to meet the citing commissioner for his moment of madness, so no ban has yet been announced. (the cynical part of me expect it to be longer than Kruis' ban!) Remember though, Pisi has previously been banned for a tip tackle on Tommy Bowe in the 2013 Ireland vs Samoa test.
Both Halaifuona and Biggar both luckily got up after treatment, the former was part of the terrific late Gloucester win and the latter part of the defeat to Saints, and how could these games have been different if a rightful red was shown instead of a yellow? One of the downsides to the citing process is that it seldom benefits the team that have been offended against. And what of the TMO? Are they not able to advise better? If a citing commissioner can see the offence as a red card after the game, why can a TMO only see it as a yellow? Surely they have similar levels of training in these situations?
Now,back on point, here is a third video. Darren Dawidiuk receives a red card and 6 week ban for this. It's not arguable that it's a tip tackle, however, there is no height to it, the player (Attwood) falls onto his arms. Yes he is lifted, but the point at which Attwood goes beyond horizontal is actually when the second player in the tackle releases him and he over balances. Is this really a worse offence than either of the other video's? It was almost like a slow motion version of the Kruis tackle, so how can it be double the ban plus double the on field punishment!
The tip/spear tackle is a huge problem. Many people have pointed out the new breed of rugby player, hugely muscular and strong as oxes, yet faster than ever before, and will point to this increase in speed and power during a collision as a reason for the seemingly increased regularity of these tackles happening and they may be right (after all I'm not a scientist and can't prove otherwise!) but the powers that be need to start clamping down on these incidents fairly and harshly, but most importantly......consistantly! The ramifications for a tackle that could potentially be career ending, whether its deliberate or not, should be viewed with more severity than the punishment you get for a deliberate knock on.
It may well take a serious injury to occur before the powers that be take a stronger approach over these tackles and that is frankly unacceptable.
(p.s. sorry for the structure of the blog being all over the place, I wrote this in 2 sections and it does jump about!!!)