Cape Town - Reds prop Taniela Tupou has escaped punishment following his tackle on Stormers wing Craig Barry during their Super Rugby match last weekend.
Tupou was cited after the match at Newlands but a SANZAAR disciplinary committee on Wednesday determined that the player’s action did not warrant a red card.
Replays of the incident appeared to indicate that Tupou’s tackle was late, high and that he used no arms.
However, SANZAAR came to the conclusion that the incident did not breach the red card threshold.
The decision was in direct contrast to the views of respected SuperSport analysts Nick Mallett and Naas Botha who said immediately after the match:
"I do not know how this foul went unpunished. It was impossible for
all four (referee, two assistant referees and the television match
official) to miss it," Mallett said.
"It was a clear-cut red. There was no argument. It was a straight-forward decision. Red card," Botha believed.
A SANZAAR judicial committee hearing determined that Tupou contravened Law 9.11 - Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.
But Tupou was issued only a warning under Rule 8.5 of the SANZAAR disciplinary rules.
“A warning can be issued for acts of foul play that are viewed by the committee to come close to but do not warrant the player receiving a red card,” SANZAAR stated via a press release.
The SANZAAR judicial hearing panel, held via video conference on Tuesday, consisted of Robert Stelzner SC (chairperson), Mike Mika and David Croft.
In the finding handed down by Stelzner, the committee ruled the following:
"Having conducted a detailed review of the citing commissioner’s report and all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, consisting of a written statement from the player’s opponent, Craig Barry, and from the Stormers’ physician, oral evidence from the player himself and the submissions from his legal representative, Mark Martin QC, the judicial committee concluded that the level of offending did not breach the red card threshold yet warranted a warning under the above rule.
"The judicial committee concluded that the player, whilst attempting to use his arms, failed to properly grasp his opponent in the tackle, which resulted in the point of contact being between the player’s right shoulder and his opponent’s upper chest area, causing the opponent to bounce off the player. An inadequate attempt to grasp his opponent immediately before the point of impact resulted in the action being reckless as to the consequences thereof. This was in contravention of Law 9.11, and close to, but not crossing, the red card threshold. As a result the judicial committee issued the player with a warning.
"The player is therefore free to play."