Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brian O'Driscoll

Via Tim Worstall, here is more video footage of the spear tackle that put Brian O'Driscoll out of the Lions tour this summer and out of action for the entire year. As if more proof were needed that the "tackle" was off the ball, highly illegal and designed with the sole intention of hurting O'Driscoll, here it is.

It beggars belief that the citing official believed that there was conclusive proof that the tackle wasn't deliberately singling O'Driscoll out. I saw it for the first time and knew instantly that foul play was the root of the problem - the ball was too far away for anything else to have been the case.

Now, England aren't necessarily exemplary when it comes to disciplinary matters, and certain players have been given bans of convenient lengths to let them play in internationals (Martin Johnson). Yet I can't think of a single incident where deliberate foul play has gone unpunished, or leniently punished on account of "good character" in the past.

The southern hemisphere, and Australia and New Zealand in particular, however, seem to treat foul play as a problem only if it doesn't occur against England or the Lions. Just before the World Cup, Josh Lewsey was kicked in the head by Ali Williams, and no action was taken. On the Lions tour to Australia in 2001, Duncan Macrae held Ronan O'Gara to the ground and hit him at least five times whilst O'Gara couldn't defend himself - one of the worst pieces of thuggery I've seen whilst watching rugby. His "unblemished previous record" was used as an excuse to only ban Macrae for three months, rather than the year that such violence deserved.

According to the Telegraph, these were the comments of Graham Henry, the New Zealand coach:

"There was no intention of hurting anybody. It was just one of those things that happen in rugby. Tana is a role model in New Zealand. He's a very special guy. I would be very disappointed if it was still hanging on."
Of course he wants the whole affair swept under the carpet. His captain and one of his best players were involved in an act of blatant thuggery that the New Zealand Union conspired in sweeping under the carpet. I hope sincerely that it doesn't rest. Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu cheated, and set out deliberately to injure another player. There is no other explanation for their actions. The actions of New Zealand in that match were the actions of thugs and cheats, and it is a total and utter disgrace.

The Telegraph also report:
Umaga will clearly be expected to lead his team in the most prestigious game - the centenary match against Wales - and is only likely to play against Ireland if his squad suffer injury problems.
No wonder. Umaga would have a target on his back. He is a thug, and Graham Henry condones it. Shame on them.