Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bloemfontein backhander

March 13, 2006

News last week saw Hurricanes teammates Jerry Collins and Lome Fa'atau whacking each other in a Bloemfontein nightclub.

Lee Stensness writing in the New Zealand Herald considers the fight a "storm in a teacup" and calls the punishment "farcical."

Inky gives us the deep background hush-hush:

Samoan Justice

A lot of secrecy still shrouds what happened in that South African nightclub last week between Lome Fa'atau and Jerry Collins, but here is one second hand account which, while going nowhere towards determining the motives of the respective parties, at least maps out the emotional landscape.

Firstly, both men's judgement was impaired, otherwise it might have been resolved without knuckles, and the Hurricanes were generally in a restless mood after a few days in a city they're not exactly in love with. Collins heard Fa'atau say something others did not because Lome's mouth was closest to his ear. We'll never know what that was, but senior ambassadorial duties are something Jerry takes seriously, even in a funk from hard-earned commiserate drinking.

The ugly-sounding "elbow in the face" was more like the back of his forearm. The front side is for impact, the back side is for restraint. Nevertheless...

Fa'atau resisted Collins' arrest, not accepting his punishment and querying the authority of the court. His motion that the reckoning would only be valid if settled without a foreign roof over their heads was accepted. Samoan justice happens very quickly, and it's best to move away rather than join in.

The sorting out on the street was made much of, but in all-male social groups, as they say, who cares if something flares? When drinking in the South African high country, it's probably as good a steam valve as anything else... better than driving off-roaders and shooting at wildlife, anyway. The witnesses who were physically involved suggest that the escalation outside was a shrugging, mutual agreement, so the scenario of the men finally having to be held apart rather than hospitalising each other is inaccurate.

The group made it back to their hotel without anyone being detained, which on the streets of Bloemfontein after a loss is pretty much an above average result. To further punish the whole team by suspending these two important individuals would have been harsh, so both men took the field. Coach Colin Cooper decided that competition points were the best remedy, and had his faith repaid.

BTW the 'Canes followed the brouhaha by pulling off a magnificent win over the Stormers :

When Hosea Gear impersonated Jonah Lomu with his rhinoceros-in-ballet-shoes routine for an extraordinary late try past four defenders, it wasted the Stormers and blew away the tensions of the last week.


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