The laws are fine, the card was correct and the Crusaders are worthy Champions

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    It was one of those moments in a game where as soon, as it happened, you could see and hear the conversations starting.

    ‘Ruined the contest’, ‘complete accident’, ‘he can’t disappear’ – the hot takes were flying thick and fast from pretty much the instant Lions flanker Kwagga Smith was shown a red card in the Super Rugby final on Saturday night.

    My immediate thought was that Jaco Peyper and his assistants made the only decision they could, and even then you could hear the resignation in his voice as he worked through all the indicators with TMO Marius Jonker. Peyper didn’t really want to have to make the quite likely match-changing decision, but as he worked through the contest, the contact and the landing, the result was crystal clear.

    “I’m thinking it’s the ultimate sanction,” he offered before Jonker concurred.

    Smith, for his part, looked like he knew it couldn’t end well for him, too. The look on his face as he clattered into Crusaders fullback David Havili’s airborne legs said it all. And neither Smith nor his skipper, Jaco Kriel, attempted to reason with Peyper when called out. They knew what was coming as much as Peyper didn’t want to deliver it.

    But the red card was correct, of that there should be no debate. And it might only be for Havili’s flexibility in landing and bouncing back to his feet that nothing came from the “seriously dangerous position” in which he landed, as Peyper colourfully described it while drawing the red card from his pocket.

    “The rule needs to be looked at, Havili literally jumped into him,” came a reply on Twitter to my stated position that Peyper had got this tough call exactly right.

    Ignoring the idea that Havili would ignore the contest and jump straight into the path of an opposition player’s head and bring whatever consequences that follow onto himself, this could not be left unchallenged.

    The rule (sic) doesn’t need to be looked at because the laws are very clear on this.

    “A player must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground,” says Law 10.4(e), ‘Dangerous play and misconduct’.

    “Tackling the jumper in the air: A player must not tackle nor tap, push or pull the foot or feet of an opponent jumping for the ball in a lineout or in open play,” continues Law 10.4(i).

    (Image: Christiaan Kotze/AFP/Getty Images)

    The Laws of the Game are clear, the laws are known and more importantly, the players know the consequences of their actions – even if accidental – in this instance. And what’s more, such is the (unfortunate) depth of examples and precedent for red cards under this law that we as rugby people all know what looks bad. In this case the only part of the incident that didn’t look bad was Havili’s almost immediate recovery.

    Furthermore, if this type of incident is a red card in Round 2, then it has to be a red card in a final, too; there can’t be allowances to water down a sanction just because of the scale of the game nor any desire to preserve the aesthetics of a contest between two teams.

    And I’ll say this upfront, too: no forthcoming comment today on this incident is going to change my mind, just as no Twitter conversation did in the early hours of Sunday morning. Peyper got it right, pure and simple.

    Sadly there’s no doubt it had an impact on the final result of the game. The Crusaders were certainly well on top by that stage, leading 12-3 just before halftime, but in complete control of the contest.

    For the second week in a row the Lions were cruelling themselves with turnovers and at times horrid execution and decision-making. Aside from his 51-metre penalty ten minutes earlier, Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies was virtually invisible, unable to get into the game by virtue of the Lions not able to make ground and some pretty ordinary service from scrumhalf Ross Cronje.

    Faced with the prospect of playing the remaining 41 minutes a man down was going to take much more than their miracle comeback against the Hurricanes in the semi-final – though if any team could call on divine intervention, the Lions don’t hide from the fact they have a strong connection with a higher being.

    If He was able to help them get back into the contest – and maybe pilfer a bit of ball and push on the open side of the scrum while He’s there – then praise be to Him indeed.

    (Image: AP Photo/Phil Magakoe)

    Yet the Lions were too slow to react after halftime. I really think it was in those ten or so minutes where the game was lost.

    At the time when the Lions needed to lift their pace and play wide, they stayed narrowly focussed and remained slow. Why Faf de Klerk wasn’t injected into the game at halftime is something only departing coach Johan Ackermann can answer, and while the Lions pondered and dithered, the Crusaders added ten more points and had most of their bench on by the 55th minute.

    When de Klerk finally entered the game in the 61st minute even Lazarus himself would’ve struggled to get back up. But the Lions did manage to find some pace in the game and started asking some serious questions of the Crusaders defence. Jantjies was now into the game and playing a lot better with front foot ball, and two tries in the ten minutes brought the gap back to eight points with seven minutes to go. I know I was starting to think the Lions’ heavenly devotion was starting to pay off at this point.

    From here the champion team of Crusaders confirmed their champion status for 2017. The Lions had three attacking lineouts in the closing stages of the game but ambitiously – ridiculously, really – threw to the back and brought Crusaders skipper Sam Whitelock into the contest, wehich he won of course, as he always tends to in those big moments. Ryan Crotty won the player of the final award, but I’ll wager that Whitelock wasn’t far behind him.

    Ultimately that kind of 80-minute consistency from the Crusaders was the difference between the two sides in what was a really entertaining game despite the numerical disadvantage the Lions found themselves facing.

    I’m not sure I’d go as far as Spiro’s headline suggested yesterday and say that it was a competition-saver, but it was certainly a suitable high water mark for what has been a frustratingly up-and-down season.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (243)

    • Roar Guru

      August 8th 2017 @ 5:35am
      Machpants said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      Just like with SBW in ABs vs the other Lions, it was the right call. Players know the laws and the consequences. It is like when a player is on the wrong side of the ruck and can’t roll away, it’s a penalty, they shouldn’t have got themselves there in the first place. Even if they are trying, tough. It’s hard enough to ref the game without looking at ‘the intent’ of a player trying to roll away. Despite Justin and the Sky commentary team continually moan about it – there needs to be more judging of the results rather than intent in rugby, it will certainly clean up a lot of grey areas. And at professional level where ‘gamesmanship’/pushing the law is done to such a skillful and practiced level, it will help the refs no end.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 7:05pm
        Todd Shand said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        This “story” is on par with the crap you would read in Women’s Day.

        It is all completely made up hypothetical garbage.

        Maybe they should look into getting Usain Bolt on the wing too.

        • August 10th 2017 @ 11:13pm
          Scrumma said | August 10th 2017 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

          Sounds like you read womans day ????

    • Roar Guru

      August 8th 2017 @ 5:52am
      Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:52am | ! Report

      Under the laws, as written and interpreted, Peyper made the right decision.

      But I don’t like how the aerial contest for kicks is legislated.

      I would never red card a player for messing up a rugby play. Chasing a kick is as rugby as it gets.

      Punching, gouging, biting: yes. Red card and LONG ban.

      But lots of rugby is risky. I bet legal tackles and cleanouts create more injury than acrobatic catch-tackles.

      I’d only ever yellow card mistakes in a real rugby play.

      And I’d outlaw the Jump. Let the chaser MOER the catcher on the ground. Both stay on terra firma.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 6:19am
        scrum said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:19am | ! Report

        So let us not worry about the risk of the player landing on his head/neck with the strong possibility of serious injury which would be catastrophic for the player and his family. I mean it is much more important to have “real rugby” whatever that may me.

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 9:38am
          Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          Calm down. If you are an opensider going for a steal, being blasted by Eben Etzebeth, you already are at risk for neck injury, legally. It’s the jump that puts players at risk. Not sure the Jump belongs in rugby.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 4:39pm
            Jacko said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

            Harry if a catcher is not allowed to jump then perhaps there will be many more injuries due to them being a sitting duck and no option to avoid the oncoming rush defence. Just put the ball in the air and run multiple tacklers at full speed and the one who is hitting at the right moment nails the catcher…just doesnt seem fair

            • Roar Guru

              August 8th 2017 @ 9:07pm
              Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

              Obviously, I was assuming the clean out was legal. McCaw cleaned Louw out (legally) and Flo had to have surgery and never really came back…

            • Roar Guru

              August 8th 2017 @ 9:07pm
              Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

              Yes, and that’s fine

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 6:27pm
            ChrisG said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

            Harry. In your example Eben also risks a red card for the high shot. No difference to taking a player out in the air, as I’m assuming that a neck injury occurs from a knock to the head. For the sake of player safety its the reckless play that doesn’t belong in Rugby.
            A sport needs to evolve, and athletic skills like jumping bring more to “Real Rugby” to my mind than reverting to a style 50 years old. Come to think of it players in those days probably didn’t jump as they were worried about being taken out in the air!

          • August 10th 2017 @ 11:17pm
            Scrumma said | August 10th 2017 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

            Hold your horses, to jump is to negate the spot tackle and don’t be hypocrites because the lions themselves have been leaping for the ball when a bomb has been hoisted by the opposition.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 10:24am
          Dave said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          The reality is it happens in AFL pretty much every mark taken high in the air, and there is no neck injuries. The injuries are caused when the player is speared into the ground. This was certainly the not the case in this tackle.

          Also the player wouldn’t of landed on his head if the crusader player didn’t hit him on the way down and cause him to tumble onto his head.

          I don’t go for either team but I think it shouldn’t be a red card.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 3:11pm
            Sage said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

            I agree with the AFL analogy Dave. Perhaps the only slight difference is that in AFL those contesting are usually coming from similar directions as against rugby where they’re coming in opposite directions

        • August 8th 2017 @ 3:14pm
          timber said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

          As Harry said, entirely legal rugby play probably causes the majority of severe injuries i.e. plays that aren’t obviously dangerous but are freak occurrences like scrums going bad.
          If you’re truly concerned about serious injury then the answer would be to ban all rugby but you clearly are willing to accept some risk.
          What risk is acceptable is the difficult balancing act, it’s certainly not as black and white as you’re trying to make out.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 8:27pm
            Sylvester said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

            There’s unavoidable risk (such as injuries in legal tackles, etc) but this falls into the avoidable category. There’s fewer of these types of incidents now, presumably because players know there’s a real risk contesting for 50-50 ball so they play it safe.

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2017 @ 9:08pm
            Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

            I would guess the breakdown is the riskiest place

            • August 9th 2017 @ 6:36am
              YeahRight said | August 9th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

              Greater risks when front rowers bore in and twist at scrum. Yet refs penalise other prop for not being able to hold up against an illegal and deliberate action. It’s the greatest problem in the game and nearly always wrongly judged by refs.

              • August 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm
                johnr said | August 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                Absolutely agree regarding boring in. It is not that hard to spot,either.
                My personal theory is that any side that gains a serious advantage at scrum time at international level is cheating. The front rows are all about the same size, about the same level of fitness and all trained by the same gurus or their disciples. The situations where you can get a real advantage (e.g a really short compact front row) rarely happen in internationals these days.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 6:54am
        Shop said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

        Disagree Harry, that act of stupidity was far more deserving of a red card than a punch. Even though there was no malice it was 100% reckless and I hope he gets 10 weeks on the sideline to go with it.

        As far as the contest is concerned Brett, I still believe a red card should have the player sent off stay off but a replacement made after 20 minutes. As above, the seriousness of an issue can only be dealt with so far during the game and after the game is when it should be handled to ensure players understand the consequences of dangerous play.

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 7:02am
          Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

          I don’t think the degree of harm is the correct calibrator for the sanction; because even an entirely legal play can snap a neck, and an eye gouge might fail. But we need to get the biters, divers, punchers, and gougers OUT. Chasing a kick and watching the ball and man when the defender leaps head high with extreme forward momentum is really tricky. Dunno if you can call Kwagga reckless. Havili flipped bc of his own player…

          • August 8th 2017 @ 7:09am
            Shop said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

            I just posted above that I don’t believe the degree of harm is as important as the incident but charging to take a kick without having any regard for anyone’s safety in my book is still foul play.

            Yes, we need to get the dirty play out of the game but it is much less common these days thanks to replays.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 10:18am
            jimmyjames said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

            I think Smith deserved a yellow at the very least and that a red was probably justified, but I agree that this area of play should be more closely looked at by the powers that be. Players leaping “head high with extreme forward momentum” can be a danger to other players. I think Keiran Read challenge on Owen Williams at the end of the 3rd Lions Test was borderline reckless. Nick Bishop made some interesting comments on this tactic in his article in that Test.

            This is not just an issue for professional rugby. I was a forward, so I am not sure how this is coached, but as a matter of safety, players should be encouraged to get under the ball before jumping rather than making long leaps with extreme forward momentum, especially in under age groups where young players might be inclined to impersonate this style of play. As with tackling, proper technique will go a long way to minimising danger and unnecessary injury.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 11:03pm
              markie362 said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

              Read never flipped Williams on to his neck like Smith did to havili

          • August 8th 2017 @ 10:21am
            Jibba Jabba said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Well that takes care of the frenchies then 🙂

          • August 8th 2017 @ 3:02pm
            cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

            @ Harry Jones

            ” Dunno if you can call Kwagga reckless. Havili flipped bc of his own player…”

            nope , he flipped becoz his feet hit Smith’s head or face.

            the problem with the kick chase is when the chaser does not jump and merely goes under the jumper.

            i think a simillar card was given to England’s Slade. my memory is very limited but i think long ago the card given to Jason Emery was also simillar – where he went under the jumper.

            also i can vaguely recall Sata tamanivalu getting carded for simillar thing – but in that case it was a rainly day and he just skidded over the grass and went under.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 8:32pm
            Sylvester said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

            The issue with the Smith incident is he zero chance of beating Havili to the ball (on the assumption he would go to the air) and the thinking part of his brain should have worked that out about 20 strides before it did.

            • Roar Guru

              August 9th 2017 @ 1:27am
              Harry Jones said | August 9th 2017 @ 1:27am | ! Report

              2 strides

              And have eyes in back of head

              And resist 20 years of coaching to chase

              And forget he is the fastest forward in world rugby

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2017 @ 8:13am
        Brett McKay said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        Let me say Harry, that I absolutely understand the sentiment from where you’re coming, and I’m sure a flow of this particular law means that fullbacks and back three players know they just have to win the race to the jump.

        But protection of the vulnerable player is paramount, and the game will be better off for it in the long run. Ditto the high contact laws, for that matter..

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 8:15am
          Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

          I totally understand the motive for the rules. Good article.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 8:23am
            riddler said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

            as a dreaming 15 in a 1’s body.. i completely concur with brett..

            fair call..

            good call by a saffa ref in south africa against a south african team..

            i think there is something in that last sentence that should highlight why neutral is a beautiful world..

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 9:50am
          Wal said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          To add to the debate, I also think there should be that advantage to receiving fullbacks/wingers.
          If you kick the ball away the execution should be perfect in order to retain possession. (Connor Murray et al) What other methods of attack generate 20-30 metres instantly
          As the receiver of the kick, the fullback should be protected in the contest. If not high balls become an unbalanced attacking weapon.
          Currently, the High ball is a key tool to attack off but as the attacker, the onus should rest with the chasers to protect the receiver.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 1:57pm
            Muglair said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

            I agree. Eliminating the jump makes the up and under a massive weapon. This is where the NRL ended up with the bomb. The only way to defuse it would be to allow a mark in any part of the field. Still an advantage to the kicking team with a line out on their own ball or a quick tap running into an organised defence.

            At the end of the day this is a safety issue. Administrators would end up in court if they do not retain a strong position on this. It is in every player’s interest to have the rules enforced and they should all be positionally aware enough to stay away from offending. When they are tired or careless then this happens and they are red carded. It should reduce the amount of carelessness in the long term.

            The difference between careless and reckless seems a fine line to me. Another comment on this post about refereeing on intent nails it. I do not ever recall a coach telling me that it did not matter which side of the ball I fell on.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 6:08pm
            ChrisG said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

            I agree.

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 10:19am
          Ralph said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          Hi Brett,

          I am sure every sensible person is in favour of protecting vulnerable players, which requires some effective system of deterrent. Totally in favour of that.

          But for mine I also have the goal of stopping that same deterrent system determine the outcome of games. Is not one basic tenant of our game that it is a fair competition?

          I don’t think this is a simplistic case of placing the current “red card system” next to “doing nothing”. Just because Harry has some ideas about the structure of the detergent system doesn’t automatically mean he doesn’t care about players safety.

          We could remove the offending player from the field but allow him to be replaced.
          We could increase post game citing penalties fourfold, this causing a large career impact for offenders.

          Just saying open discussion for improvements is a good thing.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 5:31pm
            ChrisG said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

            Surely the biggest deterrent for a player is to penalise both him and his team when he infringes. Also I’m not sure that reducing a team’s numbers always determines the outcome of a game. There was a game between the Crusaders and Sharks a couple of years ago where the Sharks won with 13 men, and there are numerous examples of teams being reduced to 14 players in the last 10 minutes of a close game and still winning.
            All options you suggest would appear to offer some disincentive to players in this situation, however we still have players infringing when surely the current red card scenario offers the same disincentive.

            • Roar Guru

              August 8th 2017 @ 6:24pm
              Ralph said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

              “.. surely the current red card scenario offers the same disincentive.”

              Yes, but at what cost to the viewing public, who at the end of the day are paying the bill? Whether we like it or not we are in the entertainment industry.

              P.S. I am also not suggesting my options are perfect, the main point is there *are* options. Some wish to paint it as a simple black and white choice between caring for players -or- doing exactly what we do now.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 12:13pm
          RahRah said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          There is a very real difference between competing for the ball in the air and “taking out” a player in the air. Unfortunately as it stands there is no differentiation between the two and there should be.
          More than a few AFL players compete for the ball in the air every weekend and there is no hoo ha surrounding the game. It is obvious to all when an opposing player lines up another with the intent of smashing him when he is airborne, and this behavior deserves to be sanctioned. Smith’s hit was a good example of this. It got what it deserved.
          Referees are now entirely too frightened not to be seen to “do something” at every tackle, breakdown, scrum and mark, the result being ridiculous decisions such as DHP’s yellow card after TJP’s clear and obvious dive after fair contact during the Force v Hurricanes.
          No one tolerates foul play however we all accept that there is a risk in this game and you can’t mitigate the risk away or you end up with touch rugby. Better coaching of correct technique is required.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 12:25pm
            Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            There is a difference between contesting for a ball & not contesting. One of the reasons Smith was sent was that he was not contesting for the ball. It was one of the first things Peyper said when he spoke to the TMO.
            He had to recognise that Havili had beaten him to the ball & pulled out.

            • Roar Guru

              August 9th 2017 @ 1:29am
              Harry Jones said | August 9th 2017 @ 1:29am | ! Report

              Recognition is difficult when you run 20 mph and look back and you don’t see Sader guy next to you

              • August 10th 2017 @ 2:10am
                Joe Carter said | August 10th 2017 @ 2:10am | ! Report

                As he was chasing the ball, Smith looked forward twice to see where the fullback was, i suspect that Smith was surprised by the height & distance of the Havilii’s jump to catch the ball.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 8th 2017 @ 5:46pm
          Hugh_96 said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

          Hi Brett
          Enjoyed the article and agreed re the red card. A question re tackling in the air. What are the rules when a winger is doing an aerial dive for a try. They seem to do a bit more these days, they are in the air over the touch line, can take down the corner post and score the try. Which is fine. I noticed I think in the ABs v Lions test where the player caught a high pass in the air and was tackled in the air , so it was a yellow card. It was unlucky but according to the rules the player was in the air. Does this apply to the player in the air going for a try?

          • August 8th 2017 @ 8:07pm
            ClarkeG said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

            The day a referee penalises a defender for tackling a player who is off the ground whilst diving to score a try is the day we all pack up and go home.

          • August 9th 2017 @ 2:13pm
            cuw said | August 9th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            the Law needs very careful wording – simple reason being anyone running is in the air.

            the difference between running and speed walking (which is also a sport) is that one foot has to be always grounded in speed walking, meaning that both feet are off the ground when running . ( this is not my definition – it is the international definition and how the sport is ruled).

            so basically every runner who gets tackled is in the air 🙂

            maybe u have heard the proverb ” a clean pair of heels” – it stems from the fact that sprinters use the front portion of the feet and do not plant the heel ( that is why in sprinting boots , there are spikes only in the front and not the heel , which is not the case for high jumpers , who plant their heel at take off – so there is one or two spikes in high jump boots)

            • August 9th 2017 @ 8:57pm
              ClarkeG said | August 9th 2017 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

              yes Cuw but it is obvious the intent of the law about tackling players who are in the air has absolutely nothing to do with tackling a player who is simply running.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 8:54am
        WQ said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Good Morning Harry.
        Unfortunately I can’t agree with you here.
        I’ve been Punched, gouged, bitten, had my hair pulled, been squirrel gripped, stomped and most certainly been rucked on just about every part of my body during the years I was young enough to play the game that I love. None of those things in my opinion are as remotely dangerous as a player having their legs taken out from under them whilst in the air.
        I’m not saying that the offences mentioned shouldn’t be Red cards just that so should taking out a jumpers legs whilst in the air.

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2017 @ 1:52pm
          Harry Jones said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          It’s easy to not gouge. It’s not easy to avoid the occasional awkward tackle

          • August 8th 2017 @ 3:43pm
            Neil Back said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

            Can’t accept that. Offenses like SBW’s and Smith’s should be just as easily avoided. They weren’t awkward they were reckless. I think it’s reasonable to expect Williams knew exactly what he was doing as he formed up to contact Watson. I think it’s reasonable to expect Smith had a long time to consider the situation he was running towards. They both do this stuff for a living. Reckless.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 4:27pm
            WQ said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

            I mentioned in another post that most players already know before they even start the kick chase if they are going to contest the ball or belt the receiver and try to pin them down for the territory gain. I think if they are going to belt the receiver then they need to time their run so they are on the ground.

      • Roar Guru

        August 8th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Jokerman said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Well said, ‘the Brett attack’

        The player in the air needs more protection. A genuine attempt or stay out of that zone.

        I thought Ackermann lacked grace at the end of the game. He had all the luck. A tournament manafactured for his team to win, and then he blames everyone but himself and his team. A poor way to exit. Look how Hansen reacted to the SBW send off – he took responsibility. Survivor or victim. Which one do you want to be?

        The Razor he’s understanding some deep philosophies. He brought the spirit back. He changed a lot more too, and here we are.

        Great final and restored the belief on how awesome this tournament can be.

        Keep the format simple, fair, and the talent will do all the work. Eh cuz? 😉

        • Columnist

          August 8th 2017 @ 1:20pm
          Brett McKay said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          the Brett attack?

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2017 @ 1:24pm
            Ralph said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            Hahahaha, it’s a shifty little move where you feint to the left, step off the left foot to dummy to the right – then shoot through the gap straight up the middle.

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2017 @ 1:49pm
            Jokerman said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            It’s a compliment! 40 metres out and you’ve got the ball and you’re called the Brett attack…well then it’s all good bro. You’re looking dangerous ! Sweet 😉

            • Columnist

              August 8th 2017 @ 2:04pm
              Brett McKay said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

              ah, right! thanks for clarifying!

      • August 8th 2017 @ 1:03pm
        wyn said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        Getting airborne puts the player in danger and at times I’ve seen near misses without any opposition player contact. In AFL an aerial contested mark happens regularly and the player that goes up (sometimes off the back of an opponent) is responsible for his own landing. Once he has hold of the ball (even for a fraction of a second) he has rights to it and can then forget about the ball and put his efforts into getting safely to ground. A law along the lines of “once an airborne player has grabbed and held the ball for an instant, it becomes a mandatory mark irrespective of the position on the field requiring the catcher to restart the game with a kick from the mark position” Interference rules apply as before, but the urge to interfere is removed and if the catcher stays on the ground Harry, then MOER him.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:26am
      John said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

      There were two very contrasting aerial contests in this match that showed good thinking and explanation by Peyper.

      Earlier in the first half two players collided in the air and Mounga (?) came down hard. Peyer clearly explained that it was a legitimate contest and both players were going for the ball in the air.

      The red card incident was very different as follows;

      1. Only one player was in the air.
      2. The second player made no real attempt at the ball.
      3. The second player took the legs of the airborn player out from under him.

      My only issue with the rule is that landing on one’s head or shoulders shouldn’t matter – are we saying that if all the above were still in place but Havili had landed other than on this head or shoulders it would only have been a yellow or penalty? What if Smith could have held Havili and tried to control his fall – would that have made a difference? It was just a bad reckless contest for the ball.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 7:01am
        Shop said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        Agree, it shouldn’t matter how the player lands it is the action that needs to be punished. If Havali does a complete flip and lands on his feet does that mean no sanction at all?

        Not sure if many noticed but Havali made contact with another Crusader which made his landing worse but the initial contact is what needs to be sanctioned.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 4:46pm
          Jacko said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          Yes I noticed Smiths contact knocked Havili into another Crusaders player

      • August 8th 2017 @ 3:10pm
        cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        ” What if Smith could have held Havili and tried to control his fall – would that have made a difference?’

        he would need to be superman to pull that off. the reason he went under was , becoz he came running hard and his momentum took him past the point where the ball would have landed if havili did not catch it.

        i do not think humans are capable of breaking on the spot AND regaining the balance to catch.

        i will put that event down to the moment – a grand final and all that . only option he had was to just duck under Havili – as if u will duck a punch. but then Smith is not the moneyman 🙂

    • August 8th 2017 @ 6:40am
      Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      IMO there is no doubt that Jaco Peyoer got the decision correct (again) and that the sanction was in line with the laws. Also that this was a tragic, but still correct, decision as it killed the contest. With 14 vs 15 for more than half of the match there was no doubt that a number of miracles will be needed for the Lions to win from this position. Several viewers switch the TV off at half time as the contest was over.

      The question is if the laws can be improved so that the contest is not ruined or the match decided by an accident that resulted in a red card without reducing the seriousness of the sanction. This is a fair challenge. Clearly player’s safety remain paramount and player’s that have flaws in their technique or decision making must be encouraged by the sanction to address these flaws. For example if the red carded player can be replaced after 10-15 minutes and this is followed up by a lengthy ban for a number of real matched at an equavalent level (not mickey mouse practice matches) it could be a far more effective deterrent without ruining the contest. Is SBW’s post match ban serious enough that he will address the flaws in his tackling technique? Even though the card costed the AB the Lions series, I doubt it is. There were serial offenders like Butch James that was a danger to the safety of the opposition that never fixed flaws in their technique. The law-makers have a responsibility to the supporters and viewers to take a closer look at the law and coaches have a responsibility to ensure that they coach and select players that can play within these laws.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 7:26am
        soapit said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        agree, dont think ive really seen any significant amount of claims that the ref shouldnt have gone red. only whether the rules need a tweak. a lot of the discussion backing the red is arguing with straw men

        • August 8th 2017 @ 8:16am
          Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          This was the point Ackerman also made.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 1:42pm
            soapit said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

            yeah i know. i do think he perhaps could have waited to make the point and given it a bit of expansion as its a bit of a subtle one

        • August 8th 2017 @ 9:35am
          puff said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          Gents, whether you support this level of code governance or not, Kwagga’s red is not the first or will it be the last. With the amount of tactical kicking undertaken by many teams in the modern game, including the aerial attributes of some players we are entering new territory with skills not normally associated with rugby. To acknowledge reckless, undisciplined play has a place in the game while the player is in the air or under any condition, is a sad indictment regarding what some people think, constitutes player safety. Players are bigger, stronger and fitter but that is no protection for dangerous undisciplined play. If the code has one player deduced to having to spent the rest of his / her life in a wheel chair or worse, its one too many. If SB received 4 weeks, this in my opinion was more perilous

          • August 8th 2017 @ 1:44pm
            soapit said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

            it might be the last if they get rid of red cards.

            i dont think anyone is advocating zero punishment for that kind of offence as there obviously needs to be a big disincentive.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 1:36pm
          Gilbert said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          Red card rules need no tweak. If a team is reduced a player or 2 for reckless play then they deserve it. It’s all part of the game.

          • August 9th 2017 @ 7:18am
            soapit said | August 9th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

            currently it is part of the game. i think some disagree whether a tweak is needed

      • August 8th 2017 @ 10:25am
        Jibba Jabba said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Well its not really a fair contest anyway being played at altitude and all. Why do you think the Lions always finish strongly when playing at home. Games at that venue should be banned except for locals.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 2:03pm
          Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

          If altitude provides such a huge advantage then the Lions, Bulls and Cheetahs will dominate the competition – they do not. It is no bigger advantage than to be used to how the wind blow or swirl in a stadium or to be able to play in wet and windy conditions on your home ground. I think you make far too much of it and the travelling is a bigger factor.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 2:12pm
            Jibba Jabba said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report


            • August 8th 2017 @ 9:29pm
              Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

              You go on as of people that live in the highveld are all like Sherpas that evolved to the low oxygen levels and if Ellispark is in the Himalayas. I grew up in Johannesburg and now live in Perth, it is not a big deal. The travelling over timezones East or West is far more significant.

              Teams that regularly travel from the South African coast such as the Sharks and Stormers to the highveld have no problems to adapt to the altitude. The whole altitude thing is blown up out of proportion.

              • August 9th 2017 @ 11:59am
                Jibba Jabba said | August 9th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                Rubbish – are you a climate change denier as well ?? just asking

              • August 9th 2017 @ 9:32pm
                Hannes said | August 9th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                You have not explained why South African teams at sea level has no problem with altitude year in and year out while your Canes and Saders did have problems. Either they are not as fit, or it is the travel.

              • August 9th 2017 @ 9:34pm
                Hannes said | August 9th 2017 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

                No I am not climate change sceptic. It is irrelevant. If you believe altitude is an issue, argue your case if you can.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 4:51pm
            Jacko said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

            Hannes your theory would work if all teams were equal…But they arnt all equal are they. You critisize Smiths red yet go on to say how deserved SBWs red was when the truth is SBWs shoulder probably would not have even been a penalty if Watson was standing upright when he got hit…Both were clear reds and I believe thats the way it should be…

            • August 8th 2017 @ 9:04pm
              Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

              Please read my post above properly. I said the Smith decision was correct. Of course Jacko, your team is far more equal than any other team, year after year and also unfairly disadvantage by altitude, attitude, referees and even the medics discriminate against them.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 3:09pm
          wyn said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          JJ – you obviously don’t watch he SA local derbies. How is it that the coastal Stormers, Sharks and Kings manage to be competitive up on the escarpment? “Altitude” training is available in Melbourne, I’m sure it must be available in Wellington and Christchurch. Kiwi teams play hi intensity fast paced games and I am always astounded that they can go at it for 80 mins and seemingly not falter. I believe that both the Canes and the Saders started too fast (the Canes more so than the Saders) as was reflected in the scoreline at half time. At 30min the Canes hit the proverbial “wall”. The Saders were still OK at half time and facing only 14 men in the 2nd half they could keep the Lions at bay. Remember, both teams are playing in the same conditions. The only difference is that the Lions have the benefit of altitude training and they have more experience of pacing themselves with the oxygen that is available!

          • August 8th 2017 @ 11:58pm
            Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:58pm | ! Report

            The Lions did not take an 18 hour flight to get to Johannesburg, they were not suffering from jet lag and slept well in their own beds instead of in a hotel bed. This traveling takes a lot of you and it takes more than a weel to adapt.

        • August 10th 2017 @ 3:57pm
          Hannes said | August 10th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          Jibba Jabba, I know you are stirring, however I can test your hypothesis that “altitude give the home side such an advantage that a fair contest is not possible”. First you need to remove the impact of traveling over time zones, so let us only consider the impact of altitude on South Africa’s premier domestic competition, the Currie Cup. We also want to eliminate the impact of one good team, so lets consider more than a century of games. If altitude is an unfair advantage, you would expect that over this period the Highveld teams should dominate the Currie Cup, especially if you take into account that there are more players and teams from the Highveld than the Coastal regions that are competing for the Currie Cup.

          The Currie Cup has been played since 1892 and the teams that regularly compete include teams from the Highveld (Griqualand West, Transvaal/Golden Lions, Northern Transvaal/Blue Bulls, Free State/Cheetahs) and coastal areas (Natal/Sharks, Western Province/Stormers, Eastern Province and Border).

          Of the 78 winners, 39 were from Coastal areas, 37 were from the Highveld, while the cup was shared twice by teams from a Coastal area and the Highveld (1979 and 1989) . There is no evidence of a bias towards teams that enjoy an altitude advantage in the results, so your hypothesis is rejected!

      • Roar Rookie

        August 8th 2017 @ 10:32am
        Cortez said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        I agree. Although I think that the penalty should be 20 min before a replacement can come on.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 8th 2017 @ 7:05am
      Dingo McNumbat said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      That was a red card any day of the week. He never attempts to leave the ground and still interferes with his legs, so it’s pretty clear. That comment that Havili ‘jumped into him’ is nonsense, plain and simple.

      The real issue with the tackling in the air laws is when two players are competing for the ball in the air, and the one who doesn’t win the ball makes contact and is penalised for it. If they are attempting to wrap or impede the player while in the air then sure, penalty, but often this year the referees have interpreted any contact as a penalty, even if most of it is inevitable from trying to compete for the ball.

      The question is whether this is the right thing for the game. Player safety is important, but the AFL seems to be able to get it right – the rules on marking still allow for contact to happen if it’s part of a fair and inevitable contest for the ball.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        The crux there is to understand if the player jumped to catch the ball or jumped to tackle the player in the air. The test there is if the player was in a realistic position to catch the ball. If not it was an illegal tackle in the air and depending how the player fell maybe a PK, yellow or red card. The margins are thin… The Poite debacle at the end of the 3rd Lions test could have been avoided if the referees were more accurate.

    • August 8th 2017 @ 7:25am
      aussikiwi said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      The card was important but not decisive. Sort of evened up the altitude/travel issues. Lions had plenty of chances after that but didnt take them. They led on most stats despite the card.

      Crusaders were disciplined enough not to give away red zone penalties in the last 20 mins and that was crucial in the end.

      • August 8th 2017 @ 8:14am
        Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        The Lions came within 8 points to close the gap in the second half, however struggled in the scrums by giving away penalties and could not build momentum by using their loose forwards in the outside channels to raise the tempo of the game in the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half. In the last 20 minutes the Crusaders were struggling. Could the Lions have scored another try or two with 15 men on the field in that second half? I think it is at least possible that makes the card decisive. However the decision to award the card was correct so it doesn’t matter if it was decisive or not.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 8:46am
          aussikiwi said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          We’ll never know, but Lions, with 14, had their share of chances to put away the game. Don’t think any fan of either side thought it was over at 60 mins.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 4:54pm
          Jacko said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

          Hannes the ABs had 14 men against the BIL Lions for 54 mins and came away with a draw…Other teams have won with 13 men

          • August 8th 2017 @ 6:13pm
            Drongo said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

            The ABs came away with a loss actually.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 9:32pm
              Hannes said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

              Thanks Drongo, you closed my case.

        • August 9th 2017 @ 11:43am
          puff said | August 9th 2017 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          Hannes, the only issue we appear to agree on is Kwagga, At the major Stadiums in OZ & NZ are at sea level, Hence visiting Ellis, has always been a restraint for visiting teams, regardless of the travel. Whichever way you would like to candy coat it, the location definitely provides home team advantages. In my mind, had the Canes or Crusaders played their matches at sea level, it would have been very much one way traffic.

          • August 9th 2017 @ 9:49pm
            Hannes said | August 9th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

            You need to explain why South African teams at sea level such as the Kings, Sharks and Stormers do well on the highveld while the Saders and Canes faded away in the second half. The answer is either that they are fitter than the Kiwi teams or that the Kiwi teams travelled further and are still suffering from yet lag. The latter is far more likely. Altitude is a factor but has been blown out of proportion by the Kiwi media. It is only 1,500 metres above sea level while 18 hours in a plane travelling over timezones take a lot out of you.

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