SANZAR’s judicial process has run its course for Sharks center Frans Steyn, with Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe issuing an off-field yellow card against the player for a dangerous tackle during Saturday’s victory over the Waratahs.
Steyn had been cited for an incident in the 24th minute of the match in which it was alleged he contravened Law 10.4(e) by tackling Waratahs center Kurtley Beale in a dangerous fashion.
Steyn’s lawyer Gerrie Swart (who is also his agent) argued that while the tackle may have ended up as a dangerous one, Steyn’s intention was innocent; he grabbed Beale by the jersey while the latter was in possession of the ball and proceeded to execute a legal tackle. Swart put it to the judiciary that Steyn had not been aware that Beale had passed the ball during the course of the tackle, due to the “dynamic situation” in play.
While the tackle thus ended up being dangerous, as it put Beale at risk of spinal injury as he was flung to ground, all parties seem to have agreed that it was perhaps more “accidentally reckless” than it was intentionally dangerous. Steyn has thus pleaded guilty to the offence, with Lubbe accepting the player’s version of events and issuing the off-field yellow, rather than a ban.
An off-field yellow-card is added to a player’s disciplinary record and will be taken into account during any future hearings, but does not have any immediate on-field consequences. Steyn is thus available to play for the Sharks against the Lions in a fortnight, if selected.
The full text of the finding follows:
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC has accepted a guilty plea from Francois Steyn of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Steyn has been issued an Off Field yellow card for the incident.
The incident occurred in the 16th minute of the match between the Sharks and Waratahs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on Saturday 29 March 2014.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC assessed the case.
In his finding, Mr Lubbe ruled the following:
“Video evidence of the incident showed that Steyn executed initially a legitimate tackle on his immediate opponent by grabbing the bottom of the jumper of the Waratahs player, Kurtley Beale with both hands.This was done at speed and in a dynamic situation.
“In the process of the tackle, Beale passed the ball to a team mate but after the pass, Steyn continued with the tackle by going to ground and swinging his opponent with him. This resulted in the tackled player landing on his back and his head hitting the ground with some force. The referee called for a review of the incident and having reviewed the incident, awarded a penalty against the Sharks.
“The Citing Commissioner correctly pointed out in his report that as a result of the late tackle, the Waratahs player was placed at risk of injury to his spinal and head area.
“Mr Gerrie Swart submitted on behalf of the player that the initial tackle was legitimate and that Steyn had no intent of causing injury to his opponent as he was not in a position to observe that the tackled player had passed the ball.
“In assessing the circumstances around the incident, an off field yellow card was considered the appropriate sanction as a suspension was not warranted for the offence.”