Wednesday evening brought the expected confirmation from the RFU that Calum Clark had been cited following an incident in the LV=Cup final. The Northampton flanker has been officially cited for carrying out an “act contrary to good sportsmanship” under Law 10.4. Ironically, Chris Ashton was cited for pulling Alesana Tuilagi’s hair under the same law earlier in the season, in another Midlands derby. In terms of severity however, the two incidents could not be further apart.
In the video above, Clark is clearly seen twisting the right arm of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins into an “armbar” that resulted in it being fractured, putting the in-form player out for the rest of the season. Clark went unpunished, even though the referee was within metres of the incident and Hawkins screams of pain can be picked up on his mircophone. Following the end of the match, Leicester’s head coach Richard Cockerill can be seen speaking with Clark about the incident, allegedly commenting that Clark would be banned for 12 months.
What will stand against Clark when it comes to his hearing on Monday is that he has a history of violent indiscipline. Seen below captaining England U21s against New Zealand in 2008, Clark unleashes a rash flurry of punches on one of the opposition, is warned by the referee and penalised to the disbelief of the commentator Nigel Starmer-Smith. Then later on in the match, with England on the attack metres from the try line, Clark becomes frustrated when being held in a maul and lashes out at the New Zealand tighthead prop, before rejoining the maul and unleashing two clear headbutts on the New Zealand number eight, resulting in him being sent off:
Even the most loyal of Northampton supporters would be forced to admit that Clark has a severe issue with his temperament. He is still young, but has been playing at the top level to not be naive. What is interesting is that the incident has come weeks after an amateur player was jailed for six months after breaking an opponent’s jaw. Clark’s offence is arguably even more malicious, yet professional players are rarely tried outside of the sport in a court of law for causing injuries.
Calls have been made for Clark to be banned for the rest of the season, the calendar year, and indefinitely. Others have said he should imprisoned. Worcester winger Marcel Garvey even tweeted saying that if he had been the victim, he would sue him for Grievous Bodily Harm.
The question therefore is, how should Northampton and the RFU handle Clark’s actions, and what should his punishment be? Let us know below.