World Rugby Stumbles On To Thin Ice

The news released last night of the outcome of the weekends disciplinary citations has seen World Rugby enter very dangerous territory with regards to it’s credibility as a governing body for the sport.

The decision to ban Johnny Gray and Ross Ford for three weeks each for a dangerous tackle is harsh from most angles, especially on Ford. Put into the light of the one week bans received by both Marcelo Bosch (dangerous tip tackle) and Sean O’Brien (striking) and the decision highlights glaring issues with the Worlds Rugby judiciary’s ability to apply an even-handed approach.

It is clear in the clips circulating that Johnny Gray had a case to answer. His attempt at a ruck clearout was clumsy, he lifts the Samoan’s leg at which point the Samoan can’t control or arrest his movement.  The fact that the Samoan landed on the back of his neck, even with no great force or intent, always saw Gray in trouble even if JP Pietersen got off with something similar against Swinson last week.  Pietersen tried to support Swinson once he realised what was going on, Gray didn’t. Three weeks may be harsh but it is equally difficult to argue that Gray wasn’t in the wrong on some level.

Ford has been dealt with terribly, his crime is being in the wrong place and time at a clear out.  Unless there was a pre-planned conspiracy between Gray and Ford then it is hard to understand the case against Ford.  The application of a three week ban equal in length to Gray is, in short, nonsense.  The decision raises justifiable questions over the competence and game knowledge of those making disciplinary judgements, in this case Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC.  The SRU should, indeed must, appeal the ban for Ross Ford even if any likely outcome short of acquittal will see him miss the Australia game.

Whilst the decisions made on Scotland players is disappointing and, in the case of Ford, baffling, it is actually the decision to hand out a 1 week ban to Sean O’Brien which sees World Rugby lurch away from the spirit of the game.

Sean O’Brien is a fantastic rugby player, his performance after the second minute in Cardiff this last weekend was Herculean and he drove his team onto, what could be ultimately, a significant victory.

Rugby is a tough sport, physical and dangerous.  Those who participate play knowing the risk, indeed those risks are a big reason why many of us play.  It is also a sport where participants are expected to play to high ideals, respect for opposition and officials alike.

O’Brien’s cowardly cheap shot on Pascal Pape has no place in the game.  To strike a player off the ball and whilst looking in another direction is not rugby, it’s a straight up act of bone-headed thuggery.  It is also, apparently, worth no more than a slap on the wrist and a minimal ban.

In giving a one week ban for Sean O’Brien, World Rugby is at risk of bringing the game into disrepute. Firstly, as a message on what is tolerated on the pitch this sends a horrific message to young players on what is, and is not, acceptable.  Secondly it is a decision which leaves World Rugby wide open to accusations to cronyism and preserving the chances of the top contenders as much as possible while decimating those of the lesser nations who can be made an example of.

The inconsistencies in disciplinary decisions are starting to mount in this tournament.  Alesana Tuilagi 5 week ban was a nonsence, especially if Tom Wood was given just a warning for knocking out Liam Williams.  Bosch, Nadolo and Waqaniburotu were all found guilty of a tip tackle, all given a one week ban – Ford and Gray found guilty of a tip tackle, given a three week ban.

To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey’s closing statement in a Time to Kill, they need to picture the tackle in their mind’s eye, then imagine it being made by Richie McCaw and Dane Coles (or Kevin Mealamu, perhaps?). Is it still a three week ban?

If it isn’t, why not?

World Rugby has a duty of care to the game globally.  This is not just a case of putting on a great World Cup and securing ever increasing sponsorship and attendances and big buckets of cash.  It is more fundamental. It has a duty to foster the ethos of the game as a game of toughness, fairness and respect. The tournament so far has set a wonderful example of the way in which rugby is a broad church, where fans mix and socialise and teams without a big travelling support are taken to heart. On the pitch we’ve also seen some fantastic games, but the double standards in the disciplinary process are starting to rankle.

The decisions made yesterday are taking the game of rugby in a direction which we should all feel uncomfortable with.

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Alan Kerr is a long time rugby lover and occasional player for Broughton FP RFC. Site co-founder Al prides himself on offering the "man on the bus" view of Scottish Rugby!

108 comments on “World Rugby Stumbles On To Thin Ice

  1. Ian on

    I think the SRU should consider taking the IRB to the court of arbitration in sport. The Ref and TMO agreed the ‘offense’ was minor and dolled out punishment in match. The differences in how Laws are applied is an embarrassment but will no doubt be swept under the carpet. The difference in how Habana and du Plessis (Nambia) were treated is shocking. Clearly World Rugby needs to fix the applications of the Laws in game and post-game with a view to fairness and consistency. If you want to talk safety then consistency would require neck-rolls to be treated the same as tip-tackles. The IRB needs a full review of Laws and their application!

    • Frozen North on

      I have been pondering exactly this…is this simply corruption? Isn’t corruption in this case not tantamount to fraud and isn’t fraud criminal in any given circumstance where outcomes affect profits?

      Scotland will forever be on the receiving end of this behaviour without serious corrective actions been taken.

    • Nige on

      Taking World Rugby through the courts would take time- probably years as World Rugby would have countless delay tactics appeals etc. Just look at how long it has taken the FBI to challenge FIFA and their investigation is still ongoing. I would go for a more direct approach- a 99 call. See my later posts in this thred on what I think we should do.

  2. Cameron Black on

    The full determination isn’t up on the World Rugby website yet. Should be up by 9pm tonight I’d have thought.

    If anyone’s interested the World Cup disciplinary process is available online here:

    World Rugby’s table of sanctions is here in Appendix 1:

    For me the most worrying thing is that the game is now being over officiated by citing commissioners and TMOs. There’s a place for both but that should be in the event of serious and deliberate foul play and in the case of TMOs to see if a try should be awarded. Otherwise it should be left to the refeees and his assistants to marshall the match.

    • Cameron Black on

      It’s not the judicial panel’s fault that SOB got a lower punishment. That’s set out in the rules.

      Punching an opponent gets you between 2 – 52 weeks. Tip tackles are 4 – 52 weeks.

      It’s the rules that need changing to give more severe punishment for violent conduct.

      • FF on

        I’d also like to see whether every tip tackle had a week added as a deterrant, or only the least serious one committed by Ford/Gray.

      • Andrew McG on

        Yes, FF, that ‘extra week’ is almost the weirdest part of the whole thing. The deterrent should be included in the stated punishment, not added on. Who decides when and how that should be applied? As you and Will imply, it clearly hasn’t been applied in Bosch’s case (who, by the way, committed the tip tackle well after the tackled player had passed the ball). Is Quinlan on a personal safety crusade (note: not questioning his integrity)?

      • Borderer on

        How does the citing process work Cameron in that, who initiates it? It used to be the player fouled or his club or country, which is fair enough. As far as I know, that didn’t happen in this case. Do citing officers trawl through a match in detail at some point after the match? In which case, is it done straight away? We didn’t learn of this citing until after the Wales v Australia match! If citing officers are trawling through the matches in detail, it beggars belief that many other incidents, which we’ve all seen in the course of this World Cup aren’t picked up! All of this does also seem to be undermining the authority and credibility of referees and TMO’s. In this particular incident the referee was standing all over it and made his call – penalty. I do understand that referees and TMO’s won’t spot everything and real safety-related fouls should be dealt with at any time. In this case I believe JG should have been given a yellow card at the time, RF completely innocent. A one game suspension for JG now would be the fairest judgement in light of other decisions.

      • FF on

        So, Bosch wasn’t cited for a tip tackle at all only a dangerous tackle which carries a lower sanction.

        When? I have no idea, Bosch commits what can only be described as a textbook tip tackle.

      • Nige on

        Theres a h.ll of a difference between 2 weeks and 52. There needs to be a punishment that is consistent and set in stone. For example a punch to the head of an opponent = 2 week ban, high tackle = 1 week etc. There has to be consistency otherwise there will be corruption.

    • Cameron Black on

      Borderer – There’s two ways a citing can take place.

      1) A citing officer watches the whole match back and notes and incidents. He has access to all camera angles and hawk eye. If he thinks there’s been an offence he refers it to the judicial panel for them to make a decision on. This is where the impartiality of the Aussie officer is moot. He makes no decision on the offence itself. He just highlights it. I think we’d be hard pressed to say it shouldn’t have been flagged up although I’ve my own opinions on whether this level of scrutiny is necessary in rugby.
      2) A team refers an offence to the citing officer. He then considers whether it should be put forward to the judicial panel for a decision

      • Borderer on

        Thanks for that Cameron, are you saying that a citing officer reviews all matches? If not, apart from your point 2), how do they decide which matches to review? Finally, do you know the answer to the question as to when the review takes place if not initiated under 2).

  3. FF on

    Good article. I’d say World Rugby has already brought itself into disrepute by its inconsistent application of the citing process.

    Why trawl through a match to cite a technical offence that led to no injury? You could do that to any number of games and find unpenalised neck-rolls, high tackles, tackles in the air and and illegal clear outs. Yet citing officers appear to ignore any number of offences and pick out arbitrary offences. Is Ford/Gray tackle really worthy of a red card? I can’t imagine any referee sending either player off and that is supposed to be the threshold for citing. Total farce.

    • mcmjco on

      Assuming Scott Nowland was in no way biased how on earth did he spot that infringement, and miss the numerous high tackles and professional fouls in the match. As I do not want to believe that an Australian has so little faith in his national team that he would try and weaken the opposition, it leads me to conclude that he is incompetent and it would be a travesty if he was allowed to draw a cheque for performing this role again.

      • Bulldog on

        MCMJCO – I beleive this is worthy of further discussion and I like your point. If we were citing officers how many offences would we see in that game? If we are to complain , it might be worth pointing this out in the complaint. However If we get even one of those wrong , the entire compliant will look bitter and flawed.

        Would a citing commissioner from any other country have picked up the same issues. World rugby could always have his judgement peer checked, however it is unlikely to be a sustainable challenge.What we know is JP who was 8 feet away saw no offence. Once again , unlikely to gain any credibility as what the citing officer is saying is he has a vested interest in supporting Scotland as he and 3 other officials missed it.

        I do not believe that Scott Nowland is abusing his position, it would be inappropriate of me to say otherwise and as there is no tangible proof and no case to answer there. I think we need to drop that attack.

        What I can say is that he:

        firstly, has been put in position where his integrity has been compromised and
        secondly, that he has accepted being in that position. By doing so we are able to criticise him and if that criticism is perceived to be right (often perception rather than fact is what remains) he will be mistrusted for a along time . Not what he would want and he should have dealt with it, he is left looking either incompetent for not protecting his integrity, or devious for citing players who could have an impact in thematch with his home union.)

        I believe that these last 2 points are the ones that we need to be asking. Attacking his integrity directly will be met with a smokescreen, they will close rank and protect their man. This needs a divide and conquer dividing World Rugby between the citing commissioner and the man who put him there, will get a reaction as they are then split and standing alone.They need to decide whom to sacrifice in order to save the face of World Rugby.

  4. Another Alan on

    A classic case of perception bias IMO…..
    Players perceived to be “classy” or “talented” are also (falsely) attributed the virtue of “fairness”. Players perceived to lack “natural talent” or thought to be “hard-working” are (falsely) attributed the vices of “dirty player”
    Most Scots, due to recent form and national stereotypes would tend to be put in the latter category regardless of their actual behavior.
    This bias pervades all judicial systems, not just World Rugby.

    • Gavin Hannah on

      Couldn’t agree more. And as an aside, those perceptions, IMO, should be completely reversed with regards to “gifted” vs “hard working” players.

      My experience is that it is more often than not the hard worker that exhibits a stronger sense of fair play.

  5. Frazer on

    Totally agree with the article, for me the thing that sticks in the throat most of all is the leniency shown to SOB and Bosch for what were, to my eyes, worse offences than those of Ford and Grey.

    I also liked the reference to A Time to Kill, even though we all know if World Rugby had been the jury in that particular courtroom then Samuel L Jackson would surely have been doomed!

  6. Andrew McG on

    It’s so sad that we’re all getting worked up over this – anger and disappointment flying around – when we should be anticipating with childlike excitement a match we’ve been anticipating for years. Most of us (especially on this blog) are reasonable, rational fans and observers of the game. We would hold our hands up and say ‘fair enough’ if we thought it was ‘fair enough’. Most of us agree that JG’s actions might merit sanction – perhaps a 1-game ban on a par with other tip-tackle sanctions. Unfortunately, a well-intentioned but dysfunctional, inequitable system has left us helpless and frustrated, and talking about all the wrong things in the run-up to a high point for Scottish rugby. I just hope the players can channel it constructively and not be thrown badly like we were by Finn’s absence in the 6N.

    • John Mc on

      Andrew it is sad and frustrating and in many respects infuriating. Like many others, I’m torn between feeling annoyed about this incident and feeling excited about Sunday. So what better way to react than by sourcing the market and finding a ticket for Quarter Final – which is what my brother and I have just done! Who knows or will ever know what impact the loss of these two players on next Sunday’s result will be? All we can say now is that there will be two more Jocks in that crowd on Sunday cheering for their country’s team, partly motivated by the injustice of the IRB justice system but mainly motivated simply by the thought of being there to cheer the boys on.

    • Grumpy Don on

      I think we just have to accept that World Rugby need to be seen to be tough on tip tackles, but at the quarter final stage don’t want to alter the destination of the trophy. Bookies make Scotland the longest shot so easier to sanction one of our players, and if they get the chances of a BOGOF deal so much the better

  7. Frozen North on

    I just hope the Wallabies manage to play a clean game on Sunday – I think that might be important for all concerned…

  8. Doug on

    All said and done this is still an absolute bloody disgrace….. Aussie citing officer!!! English QC dishing out punishments, and for what???.
    Referee was on the spot + 3 other international referees + all the technology in the world + 55000 in the crowd (including me)and not a bloody ooh or aah from anyone??

    Rugby is not netball or that bent load of nonsense they call football. Nobody was tip tackled. At worst it was ‘awkward’ clearing at the ruck.
    Far worse went on in that game (not one Samoan cited)) and in many previous matches plus the Ireland v France match that followed.

    I’m certainly not a conspiracy theorist, but an agenda is being adhered to here. There are certainly tier structures in the game, and now it would seem, not just the playing structures!

    If not, then there is a bad smell…. And the stench is wafting over from the offices of World Rugby (IRB)…


    • Nige on

      Its not incompetence.Too many inconsistencies have happened over the years for that to be the case. Lets face it we are similar to FIFA. We should employ Sebb Blatter as our ruler as he will be looking for a job in a couple of months. I honestly cant think of anyone more suitable for the job.

  9. Merlot on

    Not sure what all the fuss is about. Johnny Gray did lift the legs up above the horizontal, and Ross Ford was reckless in his clear out. Both are punishable and both have been punished.
    There is an argument over the length of the bans but if anyone thought it would be less than a week they haven’t been paying attention. They are going to miss out on the Australia game anyway.
    I may change my mind if (when?) we get to the Semi finals but if we do then we don’t need those two anyway!!

    • Nige on

      You have to be kidding me. Its down to fairness and the fact the OZ, NZ, England and other nations are treated like first class citizens and us as third class. That’s the issue, not whether there should be a ban or whether the players commited foul play.

  10. FF on

    Interesting point from the citing report is that Saturday’s ref Jaco Peyper saw the incident and did not consider it worth a penalty. He sent an email submission stating that he remained of the opinion that no offence had been committed after reviewing the match video as part of his performance review. His opinion was disregarded as he was o lay allowed to state the facts of the case as he saw them and not provide his opinion. In giving his oral testimony he was nit allowed to restate his opinion on whether an offense had been committed.

    Something is wrong when an elite highly trained ref cannot agree on whether a offense has even been committed with a disciplinary committee. Ref says no penalty (penalty was for holding on), committee says 3 week ban. That is a f***ing joke.

    • BigAl on

      If the ref thought it was ok and was prepared to say so you have to really feel for the players. If top level officials cannot agree what constitutes an offence in the cold light of day how the hell are the players supposed to know what to do when the game is played at international speed? The rule book urgently needs clarified and to be applied more consistently before the game becomes an unplayable lottery.

      • FF on

        This is the excerpt from the report –

        2.6 The match referee Jaco Peyper submitted an email in which he said:

        “I can confirm I indeed saw the incident live referred to in the citing complaint. Samoa number 7 found himself in position competing for the ball with his head below his hips already. The Scotland arriving players, Scotland 5 and 2 in an attempt to remove the threat to possession as per normal and in the dynamics lifted Samoa 7’s legs and he tumble over, however the player supported on his hands through out.

        After our internal performance review process I am satisfied that that I dealt with the incident appropriately.”

        2.7 By TDP Clause 10.14.1 referees and/or assistant referees “may only give evidence of fact not opinion”. The last sentence is inadmissible opinion evidence and as such I disregarded it.

        He gave evidence before me. Before he did so I explained to him the limits of the evidence I was able to hear (namely as to fact not opinion) which he readily understood and accepted.

  11. pragmatic optomist on

    We all let off steam after the Finn Russell debacle with Dan Biggar. What has happened since then with the august law making body? Precisely nothing.
    Nothing has been done on any level I’m aware of to clarify the rules regarding contesting the ball in the air. I now don’t expect anything sensible to emanate from IRB on any subject. There are clear consistency issues with the citing and punishment process, but it would be incredible for the IRB to offer a little clarity on the subject.

    • Nige on

      True but you have to feel sorry for the IRB- they had been getting tips on how to run the game by Borat

      Its the Mickey Mouse Club House- fun inside so comeinside.

  12. Nige on

    This is by far the best article ever posted on this blog- controversial yes but necessary. I completely agree with it. World rugby are akin to Fifa- full of corruption and cronyism. FIFA has the excuse that football was never really a gentlemens sport and, outside the UK, everyone knows it is corrupt. I wonder what excuse World Rugby has?

    The problem is I really don’t think the SRU have enough strong men to challenge them. They are too scared to intervene and expose these prats for who they are.

    So what is necessary- The players should refuse to play another game. If other nations such as Samoa Fiji etc followed suit then World Rugby would have to change their wicked ways. It may sound drastic but its the only language these prats can understand. Maybe there should be a break away union and we could run separate WC competitions as they do in boxing. The corrupt WC and the non corrupt WC competitions.

    The players need to pull out of the competition as it is a farce.

  13. Nige on

    Can I suggest that we all write to World Rugby- inundate them with complaints, phone calls emails etc- really go out of our way to them off intensely. Get the press involved and do everything we can to make them look stupid.
    Sure out team needs to down tools but all true fans have a responsibility to fight for our boys. Come on guys- lets give them a 99 call they will never forget.

    • Frozen North on

      Fully agree with you Nige – already written to them asking them to overturn the ban durations before the whole competition falls into complete disrepute.

  14. AMW on

    Frustrating as these two bans are, they are not the end of the world. We still have a qtr final to play and every chance to impress the rugby world with the sort of “glasgow” rugby we can play. We now need Swinson and Brown to step up and to show the world we are not a tier 2 team. I loved hearing how Strauss will use this as a motivator. I also liked hearing how Lamont thinks this is the best Scotland team environment (playing and spirit) that he has witnessed over his 100 cap career. I sense a truly unified team …. the sort that plays for each other, plays for 85 minutes, finds the extra yard and shares faith in each other. Richie Gray stepping in when he saw Maitland being polaxed. All about the team now.

    Let the SRU construct the appropriate appeal and use the opportunity to point out the inconsistency in judgements. As someone above said, we cannot use clearly bitter and flawed arguments. We need to try and rise above this to genuinely change the rules to produce consistency and proportionality.

    • BlondeByNature on

      Although I’m sure Gray was reacting to the tackle on Maitland as well, it looked to me like Richie took an elbow to the face while on the floor and was reacting to that. Not that it was cited, mind.

      Nor was the eye gouging on John Hardie when he was going over for his try though. Evidently, you can do what you want if it’s your last World Cup game- free for all!

  15. David Smillie on

    I am at a loss trying to comprehend this process. The referee is prevented from expressing an opinion. How is he supposed to explain his actions then? In order to make a decision he has to form an opinion of what has occurred and then communicate the decision to the players, then submit his match report. For the disciplinary process to disallow his explanation is absurd. The so called facts that the ref may report are his interpretation of what occurred ie his opinion.

  16. Ally on

    I am a huge Scotland rugby fan and can understand all Scottish fans frustration with the bans imposed and would have wanted our best team to be playing against the Aussie’s.
    However,i been actively involved in fundraising for Stirling University rugby player Connor Hughes (see Connor’s journey, is now quadriplegic.
    Rugby is a tough,dangerous sport and World rugby has a duty to reduce the possibility of serious injury through tip-tackles,punches,shoulder charge etc.
    My issue is with the equitable application of the bans imposed across all matches and incidents missed.This needs to be addressed to be seen to be fair to all countries,maintain the integrity of the disciplinary process and protect all players at whatever level from potential serious injury.

  17. Geraldina on

    Driving down and across
    Driving down and across suggests that the vector of the forces applied by tackler to a tackled player is applied at such an angle that the player will accelerate toward the ground at a greater rate than would occur in a collision where the tackler does not remain in contact with the tackled player.
    If this interpretation is accepted, and it appears to be the interpretation used by the JO, then the explanation given for Ross Ford’s suspension is questionable.
    Acceleration in the vertical plane: If a tackled player is unsupported, it is not possible to accelerate their vertical movement by applying the weight of the tackler alone. Independent of aerodynamic effects (which under such conditions, would not apply) all bodies fall at the same rate. Therefore, to drive a player into the ground requires the tackler to move such that a drive is applied through their body with their shoulders below their hips. The weight of the tackler cannot accelerate the tackled player’s descent, that is a physically naïve interpretation.
    Summarily – the weight of the tackler and the residual horizontal momentum cannot be described as accelerating the tackled player’s descent. As such, this element of the determination cannot be applied to Ross Ford under the interpretation of the facts given by the Judicial officer.
    (Arguably, though somewhat more tenuously, if Ross Ford remained in contact with the Samoan player during Jonny Gray’s application of a downward drive (by the shoulder, as declared by the JO) this suggests that the rate of acceleration toward the ground was in continuity with Ford’s natural vertical descent, e.g. that it was not in fact a drive. The alternative interpretation might be, though, that this infers both players drove…)
    Safe return of the tackled player to the ground
    The JO acknowledges that Ross Ford did not drop the player. As such, and in light of the above, his actions two of the criteria for 10.4(e) are not met.

  18. Alfie Cumming on

    I have just looked at the video again in view of the Statements from Ford and Gray. A tip tackle, this was not. The Samoan was clearly bent over in the ruck i.e his head was below hip height. Ford’s participation was no more than any other player in a ruck situation, competing for the ball. I cannot fathom why this has been been a citing incident.
    As someone eluded to earlier the Aussie Citing commissioner should not have accepted the appointment as there was likely to be a conflict of interest if Scotland won this match and the likely Quarter final opponents were to be from his own Home Union, Australia. The IRB are responsible for this.
    Despite this very frustrating feeling I am very excited about this coming weekend, some cracking games coming up and Scotland vs Wallabies will be one of the best for sure!

  19. Gavin Hannah on

    SRU Confirmed that they are appealing the the suspensions. I hope they both get overturned (at the very least for Ross and 1 week max for Gray). This has been an utter shambles of citings this week.

  20. Andrew McG on

    Although I’m actually looking forward to moving on from this, I’m interested in the procedure here so, sad man that I am, I have read the whole document of the citation proceedings. Here are the things that interest me, in 5 separate posts in case you want to comment on them individually. Sorry if this is overkill, but thought you might be interested.

    1) Quinlan says it is only dangerous play if the player is “dropped or driven into the ground”. He says the Samoan was not dropped by Ford, but was driven. “RF remained in contact with S7 as he descended. With his weight upon S7, he drove him across and down and thereby accelerated his descent.” He is interpreting Ford’s weight and the effect of gravity as ‘driving’. His sentence after the previous quotation is: “That is to drive for the purposes of the law 10.4(j).”

    Similar for JG, but with slightly different wording:
    “i. Like RF he did not drop S7.
    ii. JG remained holding S7 as he descended. With that grip and with his left shoulder/upper body against S7, he accelerated his descent by applying downward pressure. That is to drive for the purposes of Law 10.4(j).”


    • Pete on

      Interestingly, Bosch was cited under Law 10.4(e) “Dangerous tackling of an Opponent.”

      According to the Citing Commissioner,
      “The tackle was a dangerous lifting tackle, which could come under 10.4(j). However, Marcelo Bosch did not drive or drop the Namibian number 10 and he did maintain his hold but was unable to prevent Theuns Kotze’s head from making contact with the ground just after Kotze tried to break his fall with his extended arms.”

  21. Andrew McG on

    2) The presence of a ‘prosecutor’ – in this case a ‘Mrs Ahern’. Although I’m not sure it’s necessary, let’s says it’s fine for there to be somebody who presents the ‘guilty’ case. However, I find her tone unnecessarily negative – she says at one point that if Quinlan interprets a law in a certain way, it would “make a mockery of the law”. I don’t feel comfortable with that tone (although, to be fair, this point was not part of an aggressive closing statement about the whole case, but one particular interpretation). Why the need for a prosecutorial tone?

  22. Andrew McG on

    3) As referred to by others above, the discounting of Jaco Peyper’s ‘opinion’, even after he has reviewed the whole incident on video replay after the game. The referee is the best judge of the context of the game itself, so although I can possibly understand the ref’s opinion not being the final judgement (although, then again, why not?), surely his opinion carries some weight? He’s being trusted on the pitch – how can he be mistrusted off it?

    • Andy on

      This is ridiculous. JP’s opinion must hold the most weight or it completely undermines his authority as a referee. It is his job to apply the laws of the game. A QC should not be allowed to overrule an international referee unless a crime has been committed on the pitch or if he/she is also a qualified referee.

      • Mike Linds on

        Whatever happened to Rule 1? “The referee is the sole judge of fact and law”. One might reasonably amend to to include “or as otherwise” advised by the TMO. Short of major foul play such as gouging, surely the Citing Commisioner’s ability to cite should be severely restricted.

        As for Quinlan, I am not aware he is a qualified World Rugby Referee, so why on earth does he think his assessment of “fact” should prevail over qualified personnel. The rules are a mess and need revision.

  23. Andrew McG on

    4) The extra week as a deterrent. Quinlan concluded: “Looking at this act of Foul Play, I have concluded that there is a continuing pattern of offending of this kind and the need for a deterrent to combat it remains. I therefore added a period of one week to the entry point of 4 weeks.” In a World Cup? Really? Empathy for players who could play in a World Cup Final if Scotland get through (although he later specifically says he can’t take empathy into account)? This is one area where the inconsistency really rankles. Which other judicial officer has felt the need to invoke this?

  24. Andrew McG on

    5) No difference in level of fault (a major issue amongst supporters, most assuming JG’s contribution was worse). Quinlan: “I asked myself whether one was more at ‘fault’ than the other. I was inclined to the view that JG lifted the leg higher than RF and RF drove with greater force than JG. But, in the event, I concluded that such differences as there are in their respective roles were not of such a degree that they merited different sanctions.” Thoughts?

  25. FF on

    Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said: “We hold Ross and Jonny in very high regard and as a result will be launching a robust appeal to challenge their suspensions, which we feel are unduly harsh.

    “I have raised their case with Brett Gosper at World Rugby and asked for consistency in how such incidents are punished.

    “It is clear other Unions are also seeking better clarity on the use of citing and the interpretation of how key areas of the game are scrutinised and the subsequent levels of punishment set.”

    • BigAl on

      Had to look up who Brett Gosper was. Apparently he is head of world rugby and Australian. His repost was that the IRB would look at all this after the world cup was over.

      • FF on

        That is as good as a result as you’d expect to get. I think the public furore is likely to put pressure on the appeals board to reduce the punishment as they did with Alesana Tuilangi after his suspension became something of a cause celebre among ex-players in the media. There is no way their bans will be rescinded though as they need to save face.

      • Nige on

        *comments about individual removed by moderator* I get the feeling that everyone in the upper echelons of the sport are DESPERATE for OZ to win the WC. They have been second rate compared to NZ and SA (and most 6 nation teams) for more than a decade and have only become good in the last year. Their efforts in the last 2 WC have been embarrassing and they also lost the series to the British Lions. They even lost to Argentina. This has motivated World Rugby to ensure that they win the tournament time around. Don’t be surprised if the opposition goes down with food poisoning the day before they play OZ.

        It reminds me of how Argentina won the WC in 1978.

        I really hope that we beat them but, if we don’t, I hope NZ or SA will stuff them.

  26. Sean on

    My reading of the statement from the SRU is that they have accepted the guilty verdict and are only appealing the length of the bans imposed. If this is the case then it is a pathetic attempted by the SRU to be on one hand populist and support the calls from fans for the bans to be appealed, and on the other conforming to the establishment by accepting the original decision of guilt.

    My view is the JG is guilty under the law, but RF has been unfairly treated. I can see no way that WR will rescind the bans (as the SRU has accepted they are both guilty). Therefore, neither RF or JG will be available for Sunday, even if the ban is reduced as there will still be a ban. This would unbelievably harsh on RF.

    • Andrew McG on

      If it is only the length of bans they’re contesting, they must be doing it for pragmatic/political reasons. Otherwise, why would they change their plea? Did they change their minds? This is what happens when there’s lack of consistency – players and unions end up having to ‘play the game’ so they can reduce their punishments. What happened to simple, honest responses?

      • FF on

        Pragmatic I think – bans are never overturned (I can’t think of a single example) but if they can get the charge reduced to dangerous tackle or the penalty reduced to 1 week then both players will be available for the semi-final.

        Obviously a rather big ‘if’ at the end of it.

  27. Ross on

    Statement says we are appealing the length of the bans, not the ban itself. Does that mean we cannot hope for the ban to be rescinded completely (thinking of Ford for this realistically) and that the best we can hope for is reduction to 1 week ban? Or can I be more optimistic?

  28. Peter on

    What an excellent article and along with Kenny Logan’s video blog last night sums up the inconsistency and injustice in this case. Its wrong from so many angles and injust on the players.

    This is so wrong its taken the focus away from a fabulous tournament, great rugby (although hard and career ending for many through fair contact and tackles) and more to come. We should be talking about that not about the appointment of a Aussie citing comissioner (conflicts of interest), reviews and punishments inappropriate for the ‘crime’ and inconsistencies of application both in this game and across the tournament.

    All wrong.

  29. Nige on

    *comments about individual removed by moderator*

    It was really great to watch OZ smashed by NZ in the last match between these sides. I’ve been watching glorious Ozzie defeats over the last 2 days and I’ve had a great laugh. I watched Rob Andrew score an injury time drop goal against OZ in 99. It was hilarious to see the Ozzies cry like babies at the end of that game. I’ve even watched the latest ashes loss to England- I hate cricket but it was hilarious. The OZ players were stomping arround the field like 3 year old having temper tantrums.

    Lets put these arrogant prats to rest Scotland. If we cant beat them lets beat them up. If they have lots of injuries it will be more difficult for them to win the semis and final. That would be a big bonus for me.

    Lets not forget either- Australia was part of the British Empire not the other way round. We saved their backsides in two World wars and now were going to kick them.

      • John Mc on

        Er, have to agree with you there, Andrew. That was away with the fairies, that one from Nige. And by the way, Nige, Rob Andrew’s drop goal was at the 1995 RWC.

    • Cameron Black on

      Hi Nige – I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not a former commenter using a masked IP.
      Please don’t duplicate comments and try and keep comments civil. We don’t mind a bit of banter but there’s a difference between joking and being abusive.
      Also please refrain from making comments about individuals. In the unlikely event Brett Gosper decided to sue it’d be you and not us who’d be in the firing line.
      And please use the same e-mail address everytime you comment… We get suspicious otherwise

    • Angus on

      I assume the appeal has to be heard today as the team has to be announced

      Mind you considering the SRU has only appealed against the sentences and not the convictions I don’t expect either of them will be available

      Personal opinion is that to only appeal the sentences an dnot the convictions is a disgrace to the players and Scottish Rugby

  30. John Mc on

    Anyway, Ross and co. When will we see a pre-Oz match article to put us all onto a different tack? A Sco-Aus history piece for instance? Appreciate you can’t do one on the back of the Sunday team announcement which presumably can’t be done until the results of the appeals are announced.

  31. Angus on

    Why is it that a judiciary hearing is held by a Queen’s Counsel and not a panel of ex Referees?


  32. Keith on

    Just a thought if we can move away from the doom and gloom for 5 minutes. Scotland played against a SA side that were cornered there was no alternative but to win. Dominating pack, strong individuals that made our life very difficult to say the least. However I don’t think we recognise the enormity of the situation they were going home, can you imagine the discussions within the SA camp before that game. On a positive, HUGE lesson learnt. Samoa nothing to loose or was there, in there eyes bad campaign great Rugby Nation with little to show for it. This lead to a fantastic entertaining performance that had us on the rack. We dealt with it but again I think a huge lesson learnt against a hugely physical side, but it wasn’t just good there was a very clear show of confidence. My point is we have somehow weathered the storm, the scrum in the SA game was competitive with an excellent Fraser Brown who grows with every game. Arguably we have played what I think were 2 of the most physical sides and again lessons will have been learnt. I do feel a different team mentality for Scotland on Sunday will be on show. The pressure has lifted with some added grit for the reasons we all know. It’s game on we have one of the best rugby coaches in the world and I feel I’ve never been so enthused for a long time watching a Scotland side that seems at times to conjure something from nothing, something we have dreamed of for a number of years, the try count is fantastic. We should park the disapointment and now focus on the good which has been there for all to see. Game on!

  33. AMW on

    Keith, i couldnt agree more.
    This is Scotland side with strength in all positions and a confidence which i dont recall seeing for over a decade or more. We will have a game plan which if executed will allow us to win – VC is a world class coach.
    Bring on Sunday!

  34. Andrew McG on

    Hi Cameron and Rory,

    My last comment got removed, so I wanted to apologize if I misunderstood the rules.

    If you wish to take the matter further, I request a SCOTTISH QC, preferably with refereeing experience. I would draw your attention to Law 10.4(z), as my comment was clearly dropped from a significant height and your actions drove me into this response. You risked serious injury to my feelings (despite no actual injury being suffered). Is this just a warning or am I banned from making comments on the next article(s)? If the latter, I will appeal, as Nige seems to be getting away with a warning despite seemingly much worse offences. All I ask for is clarity and consistency! I think you’ll agree I’ve conducted myself well in this comment.

    Seriously, though, thanks for how well you moderate the blog. It is hugely appreciated. I had thought, though, that the link I put on was relevant and funny. Could you contact me to explain exactly why it was removed, so I’m clear next time? Sorry again if I got it wrong.

    • Andrew McG on

      Oh, my original contribution is back up (although still awaiting moderation – perhaps on appeal?!) Thanks :)

    • Rory Baldwin on

      Hi Andrew,
      All comments featuring links are held in a moderation queue and have to be manually approved, sorry but this is the way the current site operates in order to prevent spam so anyone who posts a link may have to wait a while for it to appear. There wasn’t a problem with your comment in itself, but thanks for the extended citing metaphor!

  35. Angus on

    Hi Guys

    To be clear about what the SRU have appealed and why – they are not being weak. The IRB rules are you cannot appeal the conviction only the sentence

  36. Borderer on

    RF and JG both cleared with immediate effect, i.e. can play tomorrow! Who would have predicted that, well done the defence team

  37. Taggart on

    Justice delayed is justice denied says Mark Dodson at the SRU on this weeks citing shambles. I totally agree. This whole situation is not logical and we must be missing something. What is behind it ? Who is the Aussie citing commissioner Scott Nowland and given the outcome , how did he get this so wrong?

    I am sure Scotlands board of DIrectors will be seeking answers ?

    • Bulldog on

      Hang on , one of our Directors is an aussie , perhaps they know each other of old? Either way I feel you are right, something was not right here.

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