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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

HEC Round Two - Citings and concussion.

After week two of the Cardiologists Association of Ireland sponsoring Ronan O'Gara, we're still waiting for the decisions from the first week to be posted.

However, given the citing and a straight red card from this weekend, for a dangerous high tackle and  a tip-tackle respectively, it looks like there's no let-up on the crack-down on safety in the tackle area.

Again, as soon as the decisions are up and available for discussion, I'll do so by updating this post.

One thing that was noticeable was in relation to concussion. Finally, a player who was clearly concussed - Peter O'Mahony of Munster getting an accidental knee to the head in a tackle at the end of another top-notch performance  - was taken off, even though he was vital to the team and had no like-for-like replacement possible (he was replaced by a hooker). It's not just my own provincial loyalties that make me glad Munster did the right thing; a player as good as O'Mahony is shaping up to be should not be risked for the sake of ten minutes extra while concussed. Nor, indeed, should any player's health; but that's another day's posting.

Update: Mike McCarthy got two weeks, Steven Shingler got four. The full decisions aren't available yet, but as soon as they are, I will go through them.

Further update: Steven Shingler is planning to appeal his sentence. He may well have a decent case for so doing.

The decision is HERE. Now, to point out the crucial thing from the off; this is not about whether or not  it was a red card offence. It was. Shingler said in his statement it was, and was asked himself at the hearing if he stood by the position that it was a fair sending off; he did. And he deserves a fair bit of credit for it.

But the key point here seems to be consistency. London Irish tried to introduce footage of the Stephen Jones tip-tackle that wasn't cited (which I dealt with HERE); they weren't allowed to, but it has no purpose at all except on the issue of consistency.

And, while the Judicial Officer, Roger Morris, largely followed the same ground as Rod McKenzie did in the excellent Schalk Brits decision (which I dealt with HERE), he took a very different view on the issue of a need for a deterrent. McKenzie, on pages 14-18 of Brits, was of the view that increasing the sentence for a deterrent purpose while setting the entry-level higher on the same basis, was effectively a double punishment and t be avoided. Morris, over pages 8 and 9, disagreed, based on the Disciplinary Regulations, and felt that the correct method was to increase the sentence as a deterrent, rather than the entry level.

Both give well-considered, well-reasoned judgements; yet they are inconsistent with each other. And though I've criticised such inconsistency in the past, it is no reflection on Roger Morris, or indeed Rod McKenzie to recognise this fact. Where there is a question of proper interpretation of an area that is the focus of many cases, as tip-tackles are at the moment, and two approaches are equally open, it is if anything the sign of a healthy and functioning system that this debate happens - but, crucially, it also requires that there is an appeal level to settle the question.

As I said, Shingler may well have a good case to make that it was the Brits decision that should be followed; but, after the appeal, we will know for certain. In essence, the ERC system has now thrown up what looks like its first test case on interpretation, while maintaining the drive for on-pitch safety (because it's still clear; this IS a red-card offence).

In its own way, that's a quiet triumph for the ERC; their judicial system works just like a real one should. That's no mean feat.

No comments:

Post a Comment