Calum Clark facing severe punishment after Hawkins citing

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.


32 thoughts on “Calum Clark facing severe punishment after Hawkins citing

  1. Regardless of the outcome of the citing, i strongly feel that SL has to remove Clark from the EPS. Care and Armitage were both removed for “ill discipline” issues, and Clark has yet again demonstrated his violent nature, and so has to go. Was surprised that he made the EPS to begin with, though was hoping it would help mature him as a player and person – obviously not.

  2. I’m torn with this one. It was malicious and the intent was clearly to hurt Hawkins, but was his intention to inflict such a bad injury? Often rugby players get the opposition in uncomfortable positions to cause them to leave the ruck/maul, this is obviously worst than most – but a 12+ month ban would seem to suggest it is in the same category as gouging, which I’m quite sure it isn’t.

    He deserves a lengthy ban for sure, and hopefully it’ll teach him a few lessons in the process.

    It’s worth mentioning that he was the U20s captain (not sure he was in that game) and has subsequently gone on to lead Northampton at a young age, so managers must see something in him and don’t believe him to be a liability – as many things I’ve read on Twitter would suggest.

    1. The point of an ‘armbar’ or hypertension is to inflict such a bad injury.

      Commonly used in martial arts, the only difference is that it is controlled and the opponent taps before suffering severe damage.

      Clark knew exactly what he was doing otherwise he wouldn’t have done it.

      He may not have meant to cause a breakage, but he did. He needs to face the concequences and the consequences should be a long ban.

  3. that is shocking, I don’t know about 12 months ban but I could definitely see it being a conviction for ABH.

  4. I’ll be honest, I like Calum Clarke as a player, but his actions can only be seen as intention to cause harm. It’s not rugby and realistically, Hawkins could press charges for assault and sue for damages, it happens.

    When an accidental hand in the eye or eye area is considered serious enough to warrant a 24 week ban for Mark Cueto (reduced to 12 for an exemplary record), how else could the RFU approach a deliberate assault like this? minimum of 25 weeks I expect, but that could go up as far as 6-8 months, especially with a poor disciplinary record. I’d be surprised if the RFU went as high as 12.

  5. I was in the crowd on sunday and heard tthe cry of pain so why the ref never did anything is a mystery. I believe he should be banned for a long time and what happens if Hawkins is permanently damaged by it?

  6. Disgraceful. Northampton need to discipline him as well. Hawkins will be out for the season (at least) as a result, and so should Hawkins. He should definitely be removed from the EPS.

    I’m no medical expert, but I do know that Hawkins arm will never be as strong after it’s been fractured. He should return to full fitness and continue to play rugby, but his arm will never be the same, and this should be taken into consideration when deciding the punishment for such indiscipline.

  7. Just watched the second video, and what is so shocking is that after he’s shown the red card, he smiles and shakes his head, almost as if he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.

  8. It´s just disgusting !!! We try to develope the Sport in Spain. Ans this kind of acctions give a bad name to our wonderful sport.
    He should be banned for life. We dont need people like him in our sport.
    So coward !!!! the worst thing I ever seen in Rugby field.
    Clark….you are a disgrace.

  9. Just looking at the still of the clip above, it makes me wonder if the ref will be facing any punishment for missing something so blatant. He’s standing right there, and apparently doesn’t see or hear the incident.

  10. This has to result in a very lengthy ban with the barest acceptable minimum being one year. This was no accident. Even if he had no intention of injuring Hawkins, he should have (and probably did) realized the danger of what he was doing and either deliberately was attempting to injure another player, had a completely callous disregard for the danger, or is simply too stupid to think about the potential consequences of his actions. Any of these is more than reason enough to exclude him from the sport.

    He has to face criminal charges because this wasn’t an accident, this was deliberate.

    If it were up to me, lifetime ban and assault charges.

  11. He certainly had Nigel Starmer-Smith coming in off his long run there didn’t he?

    I don’t know about any of you who have played much rugby but has it ever occured to you in the middle of a game to try to break somebody’s arm? Or to fly over the top of the ruck with a headbutt? Extraordinary behaviour (mind you I am a girly back). And I agree it should probably cost him his place in the EPS for the summer tours (same goes for Hartley if he gets done for biting). No provocation whatsoever for any of it as far as I can see. He appears to have a severe screw loose.

  12. Having said that I’ve seen much worse, lifetime ban is rather overstating the case. What he does there is nowhere near as dangerous as, for example, what Bradley Davies did against Ireland which could have ended in a broken neck (not to mention the 05 Lions incident – cue Kiwis telling us to get over it), or eyegouging. Those are offences which can cause permanent damage to the victim, this wasn’t. Still pretty bad though obviously.

    1. Stuart you say that this was not an offence which can cause permanent damage, have to disagree with you there. Hawkins broke his arm in four places, an injury which is most certainly career threatening, especially to a hooker. i would agree that a lifetime ban is a bit excessive but minimum one year imo.

  13. Javi i agree with you. How can you encourage kids into the game when they see that.
    That was not rugby it was a delibereate assault and Clarke shoulld be accountable to the R.F.U. and the law. This was not a punch a loss of temper this was an attempt to break an opponents arm. Some things can not be forgiven and Clarke should be banned for life. Hope the Tigers player recovers and an apology from a Saints fan.

  14. I think he is overrated and gives away too many penalties. What nobody has queried is did anything happen at the bottom of that ruck. Leicester forwards are never shrinking violets at the bottom or top for that matter, of rucks and mauls. By the time the cries are heard , it is too late for a referee, believe me as a player and ref for many years. Not condoning violence on the park just trying to take some emotion out of it. Speedy recovery to Hawkins.
    On Hartley biting, pretty difficult with a gum shield, just try it, I would query where the finger might have been in the first place, trying to rip a gum shield out is not a new trick. Why do you think you see them being picked up at times.

    1. It doesn’t matter what he did at the bottom of the ruck. I never been so mad at some one that I tried to break someones on in a game. A one year ban at the least. I would give him two years. You must make example out of players that do this, so it doesn’t happen again.

  15. Some people seem to get there goggles on an forget the full blown assault on Chris Ashton by tuilagi an he only got 5 weeks! Yeah he breaks his arm but it’s not the intention in my opinion but tuilagi’s intention was to smash Ashton to kingdom come so should the bans not be similar

    1. “Yeah he breaks his arm but it’s not the intention in my opinion” – So what was the intention? What on earth was he trying to acheive by bending his arm backwards? Just to hurt him a little??

      Ashton did not suffer serious injury so Tuilagi’s 5 week ban served it’s purpose. Had Ashton been seriously injured then obviously the ban would’ve been longer, with the possibility of criminal charges (depending on severity).

      Calum Clark DID cause serious injury, so the two instances cannot be compared.The hooker is out for the season with a broken arm. A lenghty ban should ensue, and if i was the hooker i’d be pressing charges as well.

      What i will say is there is no place in the game for either instance, but saying they amount to the same thing i dont think is correct.

    2. Massive differences between Tuilagi and this.

      Ashton challenged Tuilagi and got thumped in an arena where he could defend himself. A fight is a fight, a ban was deserved and given. Similarly to Ashton grabbing Alex by the hair and yanking him away with it. It was stupid, but Alex could defend himself and get away

      Hawkins was prone at the bottom of a ruck and Clark took the opportunity to do some damage. This is a very deliberate attempt to injure someone, I don’t think you can see it any other way and deliberate intent to cause injury has to carry a heavy ban.

  16. I see your point about severity but had both these incidents taken place in a town centre they both be treated the same with Clark’s case paying out more money in damages, both would receive same length comunity service charges

    1. I hate these “if this wasn’t on a rugby pitch…” comments. Fact is, it was on a rugby pitch and that brings it under the scope of the laws of rugby (and, if anyone wants to press charges, the scope of police and legal teams).

      A fight is a fight, it’s unfortunate, but things will get heated in games. If you must continue your “if this happened in a town centre…” comparison though there are important elements to think about that would effect the outcome. Mainly provocation, attempt to harm and resulting harm.
      Tuilagi was provoked into a fight, he just did better than Ashton
      Clark – where’s the provocation? by the time Clark arrives, the referee’s blown the whistle, and Hawkins is under a pile of bodies unable to do anything
      Attempt to harm:
      Punching someone in a fight is an ineffective method of harming someone, but there’s intent to make sure the other guy goes down before you.
      Diving on someone on the floor and putting him into an arm lock is either an attempt to control them, but when they already can’t move and you hit it the way Clark does, I’m sorry, there can be no other view than an attempt to cause harm
      Actual harm:
      Chris Ashton’s skull is pretty thick, he took the blows like a champ. However, except for a minor cut, no harm done, he played out the rest of the game.
      Hawkins arm is broken in multiple places, it will take months of physio to get it back into a manner where it works properly and the result of it is missing work for several months and possibly effecting the future of his job.

      So tell me where – legally speaking these are the same incidents. Manu at worse would be public disorder and provoked ABH. Clark would be unprovoked GBH

  17. The penalty has to fit the crime, if the crime is defined as a crime against the reputation of the sport then I would not have an issue with a lifetime ban. Is this sort of act any less damaging to rugby than Chisora’s behaviour was to boxing? Is it less damaging than a rugby player having a cocaine problem and being banned for 2 years?

    How many kids won’t get to play the sport if their mothers don’t want them participating in a sport where perpetrators of acts like this are allowed to continue to play?

    People who petform acts that have no place in the sport should have no place in the sport.

    1. Actually, I’d say this is less damaging than Chisora and Haye acting like a couple of school yard thugs trying to outwit each other without wits. This incident still happened on a pitch in a game, not in a press conference while talking.

    2. Actually, I’d say this is less damaging than Chisora and Haye acting like a couple of school yard thugs trying to outwit each other without wits. This incident still happened on a pitch in a game, not in a press conference while talking. If Johnno picked up Rob Andrew and put him through a table, that would be damaging, though not unforgivable

  18. Matt.. I agree 100 % percent with your point of view.

    What horrifies me it´s that he does it intentionatly….no reason to do it, No provocation …NOTHING. He just wants to damage.

    As a rugby player I know we play a contact sport, I got punched I had punch. team brawls are also part of our sport…Especially in France were I had been playing the last 5 years.
    From my point of view he should be banned for life.

  19. Clear intent to harm. Demonstrable actual grievious damage to the victim. Why exactly should he be allowed in the game for life? If not this then what? Finally, for what possible reason would he not be prosecuted and hopefully made an example of. It is a criminal and public act and it has no place in our game.

  20. Sad really that a promising young player has let the red mist get the better of him once again, to the extent that this could end his playing career or at least put a black mark over it for the rest of his life.

    However I would take issue with the suggestion that there was no provocation – the situation was actually a saints penalty, as Hawkins had been illegally killing the ball, a tactic Leicester continued throughout the game (evidenced by their captain getting binned near the end).

    This however is no defence – players should not take these matters into their own hands, and as a saints fan I am horrified that a player of ours should do something like this. I feel that we are acquiring a poor reputation as a club, which needs to be fixed very quickly.

    If I were Calum Clark, I would have left the field after the game and got as far away from Dorian West as I could. Saints have acted correctly in suspending him indefinitely and I should think some very serious discussions regarding his future with the club are currently taking place.

  21. At times the game is about controlled aggression. Grubbing little thugs like Clark either can’t or won’t control it and damage the wider reputation of the sport we enjoy in the process. We all suffer, and as has been alluded to earlier what sane mind would encourage youngsters into the sport while idiots like him are permitted.

    His what-me-guv behaviour afterwards, devoid of any remorse whatsoever, demonstrates a sickening arrogance and comfort in what was a disgraceful cowardly display. He deserves the full force of law, the RFU and his club.

    Sickening, it needs driving out.

  22. I can see no mitigating circumstances. Hawkins was unable to defend himself, the whistle had blown – this was a completely sinister and malicious act with the sole intention of inflicting serious injury.

    Given his previous record he should be banned for a minimum of 2 years and should consider himself lucky not to face criminal proceedings.

  23. seeing this guys track record and poor attitude i surely hope his is banned for life .i am sure what ever the outcome he wont play for the saints or england again .this behavour is as bad as it gets in rugby and is a poor example to say the least .I hope never to see him on a rugby pitch again and hope that rob hawkins make a full recovery and i hope he or the tigers let there legal team deal with it .

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