Cape Town - A New Zealand-based scribe has hit out at the Hurricanes for their off-the-ball antics in an opening round Super Rugby defeat to the Stormers at Newlands.
Mark Reason, via a column for the Stuff.co.nz website, suggested that some of New Zealand's rugby players and coaches were not reacting well to the All Blacks' World Cup disappointment in Japan last year.
"Some coaches and players appear to be seeking vengeance. They want their kilogramme of flesh. The first major sign of roguery was during the Hurricanes' defeat on the opening weekend of Super Rugby. They were well beaten by the Stormers and too many of the team reacted like petulant children. Some of the tackling was grotesque," Reason wrote.
The biggest news to come out of the game was the first half knee injury suffered by Stormers captain Siya Kolisi following a late hit from Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli.
Stormers coach John Dobson had said afterwards that they were upset at the tactics employed by the Kiwis.
"I thought that was a mean-spirited game. It was not good for the tournament going forward... it was very subtle stuff, but when we reviewed the game a few times we were more and more angry," Dobson said.
Reason said Riccitelli's tackle on Kolisi could hardly be labelled as such.
"The worst hit was the 'tackle' of Ricky Riccitelli on Siya Kolisi. It was an act of cowardly thuggery. The Springboks captain had already long passed the ball when the Hurricanes hooker blindsided him with a shoulder into the knee. It was ridiculously late and has put the Springboks captain out of the game for around six weeks.
"Riccitelli did not even look at Kolisi, an icon of the game, as he was helped off the pitch. And to rugby's shame, nothing has subsequently been done about it. We need sanctions for this sort of thing. Why should the victims, the Stormers and Kolisi, suffer, but the thugs escape unpunished.
"You would have liked to think that the Hurricanes coaching staff would have publicly apologised after the game for this and many other cheap shots their players perpetrated. But we know what happens when New Zealand rugby is criticised. They jump into the sand pit and go into the denial mode of a small child," Reason added.
After reading Dobson's comments, the Hurricanes made it clear that they were also not happy with the Stormers' tactics on the day.
"I've just read the article and it's blindsided all of us to be fair. It's a pretty big glass house there to be honest," Hurricanes assistant coach Chris Gibbes said.
"There are a few clips that we've looked at - TJ (Perenara) getting tackled off the ball, head shots and guys getting their heads hit.
"So I don't know where he's coming from with that. He's entitled to his opinion, but it's a bit surprising, and a bit disappointing," Gibbes continued.
- Compiled by Herman Mostert