Sunday, April 01, 2007

Log-rolling with Ben Tune and Lote Tuqiri

August 22, 2006

lote and ben

The biggest outrage coming out of the All Blacks vs. Wallabies last Saturday was the copping AB captain Richie McCaw took from the Aussies. Phil Waugh was incredibly fortunate for not getting cited for a swinging forearm to McCaw's head. Lote Tuqiri received a dodgy suspension that works out to one test match ban, for spear-tackling McCaw.

Tuqiri's backline teammate Ben Tune has a column with the Sydney Morning Herald. Tune's first post-test commentary came out in support of Tuqiri and turned the world on it's head blaming McCaw for not allowing himself to be tackled correctly.

Wallabies not too far off the pace

[...] On Lote Tuqiri's tackle, I will make only one point, which is that the player getting tackled needs to take some responsibility for the part they play in getting themselves in as safe a position as humanly possible when lifted off the ground.

Richie McCaw was lifted by Lote (not a lot I should add) but, instead of crunching his stomach and twisting his body, which is what you are taught to do when lifted off the ground; he stayed pencilled straight so that his head, instead of his shoulder blades, made contact with the ground. I am not condoning spear tackles but I will stand by Lote and say this was not a spear tackle but an aggressive, dominant tackle, which we are normally praised for doing. Granted it looked ugly but I would be really disappointed with the way our game is heading if Lote got suspended for that tackle.

Speaking of McCaw, I thought the Wallaby back row did a fine job in targeting him last night and keeping him as quiet as possible. A player who has that much influence on the game needs to be pinpointed for special attention and it was obvious that Phil Waugh and Rocky Elsom had been given that role last night. I thought they both did a great job in executing that directive.

This got the gears going from outraged rugby fans, and Tune felt obliged to clarify himself with another column almost immediately. Instead, he dug a deeper hole for himself.

Three points on the previous post

Firstly I would like to thank those people who were constructive in their comments about my latest blog. This is the first writing role like this that I have undertaken so I am learning as I go and therefore constructive feedback is always welcomed. I do however feel compelled to try to clarify three points. [...]

3. Those people that commented how wrong it was for McCaw to be targeted during the last Bledisloe game perhaps should consider another sport to watch. Rugby at this level is a contact sport played by professional athletes who are physically prepared for the rigours of the game. So instead of complaining about the physicality of the game can I suggest you sit back and enjoy the contest and think yourself lucky you don't have to do it for a living!

"billy bob" writes:

Dear Ben,

I empathize with your insecurity about being a new columnist, so hope you can extend the same leeway to a novice commenter like me. I don't think I can put it any simpler, your explanation about Richie McCaw bearing responsibility for that spear-tackle is lame.

And your third clarification, that, "Those people that commented how wrong it was for McCaw to be targeted during the last Bledisloe game perhaps should consider another sport to watch," is equally assinine.

What is your definition of what constitutes "target"? In ice hockey, targeting a player means checking him tightly, giving him no space to operate, closing down his skills and hitting him hard-but-clean every time he receives the puck to let him know the defender is there.

What it doesn't mean is punching the "targetted player" in the back of the head or spearing the player in the balls with the blade of the stick.

In NFL, it's the same -- you play the game hard and to the edge, but you don't make helmet-to-helmet hits against a QB or kung-fu kick the side of a lineman's knee when he's out of bounds.

Many of us have played hard physical contact sports and aren't the soft naive patsies you presume us to be. There's a HUGE difference between targetting a player for close scrutiny and targetting him with sucker-punches and foul play (a-la Todd Bertuzzi).

You yourself concede that McCaw was targetted. That implies deliberation -- that the Wallabies took the field with the intent to target him. But you take it further and condone targetting a player via dirty fouls (like swinging forearm to the side of the head and spear-tackles) and excusing it as "part of the game." That is insane cynicism. I suppose you'll next have us believing that Riaan Loots getting kicked in the head when he was prone on the ground is also just part of the game. If Delicious needs a mercenary witness for the defence, speed-dial Ben Tune.

The sport doesn't need your cynical negative attitude, it only hurts the game and gives parents a reason to enroll their kids elsewhere.


  • Brad Walter, writing in the same Sydney Morning Herald, shoves it in Tune's face.

  • Lote lucky he's not in NRL: McCallum

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    LOTE Tuqiri's spear tackle on All Black Richie McCaw would be considered so serious in the NRL he would have almost certainly been referred directly to the judiciary on an ungraded charge and be facing a ban of more than 10 matches.

    Tuqiri was outed for 11 weeks but will miss just one match, the September 9 Test against South Africa, as he was due to be rested from the Australian Provincial Championship and would have been unlikely to play in the opening game of the end-of-season tour of Europe.

    NRL chief match reviewer Greg McCallum said yesterday the tackle was worse than any he had seen in three years in the job and suggested Tuqiri would have received a longer ban than the 10 matches imposed in the past two seasons on Souths' Luke MacDougall and Rooster Lopini Paea.

    "Each of those were grade fives but in this case there would be an argument for it to be sent straight through to the judiciary on the basis that each of the criteria we look for was met in terms of danger," he said. "We look at a number of factors - the lifting element, the way the player is put into a dangerous position, the landing and any injury … In this case it appeared that there was some significant contact. It was certainly worse than the Paea incident in terms of landing because McCaw's neck is hyper-extended and his head skims across the ground."

  • Springbok coach Jake White weighs in:

  • McCaw targeting went too far: White

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Springboks coach Jake White says the Wallabies went over the top on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw on Saturday. [...]

    "Richie will be the first to tell you if you're seen as that good, people will target you and try to get you out of the game as long as it's all above board and legal. I suppose that's why he plays in that position."

    Asked whether he thought the Wallabies' tactics were above board, White replied: "Once or twice he got taken out a bit and they didn't really have to do it. But the citing commissioner has stepped in and addressed it."


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