In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why. - Tasker Watkins VC, LJ.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

RWC Part II - Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes of England has been cited for striking Mario Ledesma with his knee. He has been banned for two matches. You can see the offence in slow-motion in from two different angles here and here (with thanks to Snedds on Gwlad).

Now, it might be somewhat of an understatement to say that I have my own opinions as a rugby supporter about Mr. Lawes' actions here - in the same way that it's somewhat of an understatement that the sea is slightly damp. But I want to put that aside just for the moment and deal with the aspects thrown up by this decision.

Firstly, we still don't have the full decision. Bluntly, that's not good enough. For all that I regularly criticise the ERC here, the ERC is at least developing a coherent, consistent set of decisions. Players, lawyers and judicial officers alike can all look at past decisions, and develop a proper system of precedents. The IRB singularly fails to do the same; it is, in essence, a closed system. That is not good enough at the top of the game

Secondly, the entry level minimum sentences in Regulation 17 are now, in effect, dead. The only reason that Regulation 17 permits to go below those minimum sentence (and at the entry level alone) is in exceptional circumstances. Here, there was a player who denied any wrongdoing, but whose plea of remorse in mitigation was enough to go below the minimum. If a plea of remorse in mitigation, something specifically dealt with in Regulation 17 as being a normal factor to be considered in the sentencing, it to be treated as being an exceptional circumstance, then, frankly, the term is meaningless. There are no minimum sentences, and the IRB is, yet again, ignoring its own regulations.

I'll post more on this as and when the full decision comes out - if, indeed, it ever comes out at all.

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