Good news, fans and players (well, fans of boxing, that is)… it’s fine to throw punches on a rugby field, so long as you’re provoked!
This, as far as SARU’s judiciary panel is concerned, seems to be the message after Western Province’s pair of red-carded brawlers were essentially let off scot free during their respective hearings yesterday. Both Jebb Sinclair and Tyrone Holmes were sent from the field during Saturday’s Currie Cup game against the Sharks for throwing clear punches, which connected with the faces of their respective opponents and yet SARU have opted to sit on their hands, insisting that because the players were supposedly provoked into these actions, they are somehow excusable.
Sinclair floored Jean Deysel with a punch after the typical sort of pushing and shoving that you occasionally see when a maul gets heated. Now Deysel was hardly blameless in this event – and was himself yellow-carded for his role in the scuffle – but I find the suggestion that he “struck Sinclair with an open hand five times” prior to the Canadian losing his rag and punching him, somewhat laughable. Deysel may have done a bit of pushing and shoving, but he certainly never actually hit Sinclair, open hand or not. Much less did he do so five times.
Sinclair, by the way, has been let off with no further sanction at all, meaning he’s free to play this weekend unless Western Province themselves opt to suspend him.
Holmes’s one-week suspension is, if anything, even worse if for no other reason than that wording used in the judiciary statement. Apparently, leniency in this case was applied due to the “extreme provocation” of Jacques Botes holding his jersey. Well paint me gold and call me “Oscar”, but if that’s the sort of thing that counts as extreme provocation these days, then I would advise more rugby players to come out swinging after every ruck, maul, tackle or scrum, because I’m sure if you look hard enough at the viedo footage afterwards you’ll always find some evidence of that sort of justification for using the fists.
Laughable, is what this is. There was a golden opportunity here to send a strong message to all stakeholders in the game that dirty play will not be tolerated and that punching has no place whatsoever in rugby, regardless of any extenuating factors. Once again, I fear, in the face of a tricky situation, SARU have bottled it in spectacular fashion.Tweet