Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rua Tipoki receives 16-week suspension

April 18, 2006

Auckland Blues centre Rua Tipoki received a 16-week ban for his elbow to the head of Western Force five-eights James Hilgendorf this past weekend. The assault happened in the game's 8th minute with the scores deadlocked 0-0. Tipoki did not receive a penalty on the play and went on to score a hat-trick of tries in the Blues 39-8 win. The injury and attack was re-evaluated by television match replay after the game.

Wynne Gray of the NZ Herald reports:

The television replay is both revealing and grim. Without that footage, Rua Tipoki would probably have escaped censure for the elbow he landed on James Hilgendorf's face.

But on the pictorial evidence, Tipoki altered his intended tackle to unleash a swinging elbow on the Force five-eighths. It was blatant.

Tipoki took his chance. In the past he would have got away with his thuggery but television is a ubiquitous spectator in the modern era.

Rugby is better for that involvement in checking for foul play or try-scoring decisions.

The Blues midfielder attacked his opponent's head, the one part of the body footballers always treated as sacrosanct in the dark days of rugby violence, pre-television.

It was a cheap shot from Tipoki with expensive consequences.

Banned for 16 weeks he will miss the rest of the Super 14, the NZ Maori tour to Canada and the first few rounds of the Air New Zealand Cup.

"We will not be appealing," Blues chief executive Andy Dalton confirmed yesterday.

"We believe the process was robust and fair, we have taken advice about getting the penalty reduced and Rua is keen to move on."

Full story here.

Tipoki elbow


The suspension seems somewhat excessively harsh to me (but then again, I watch a lot of NHL ice hockey where a similar offense would amount to dick-all by comparison).

Matt Brown at the Rugby Channel has the entire clip online on his "Watch & Comment" section. Mediazone now requires viewers to register with a user-name & password to view this service as well as Super 14 highlight packages, but these are free of charge and worth the effort.


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