ERC hands out lenient sanctions for cited players

The ERC disciplinary hearing took place in Dublin today for the four players cited in Round 1 of the Heineken Cup.

We think some of them seem to have got off lightly, so we’ve found some clips of the incidents and the sanctions received – let us know what you think.

Sam Tuitupou

Munster centre Tuitupou was charged with a dangerous tackle on Paul Hodgson in their match against London Irish on Saturday.

Having pleaded not guilty, the judicial officer deemed that the offence was at the lower end of their seriousness scale and banned the player for three weeks.

Here’s the clip courtesy of RugbyDump.com – jump to 1m16 for a slow-mo of the incident.

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Martyn Williams

Williams was charged with ‘striking with the knee’ in the Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh match, after an incident in which he appeared to deliberately drop his knee onto Chris Paterson’s head.

Williams pleaded guilty at the hearing, and was banned for two weeks. Check out the incident below, and let us know your thoughts.

Here is the clip courtesy of the Welsh Rugby Blog.

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The ERC press release contained the following paragraph, which gives a clue as to why they were so lenient.

The possible ‘entry points’ for a strike with the knee in contravention of Law 10.4(a) are lower end: three (3) weeks; mid-range: eight (8) weeks; and top end: 12 weeks or more. Having determined the appropriate ‘entry point’, the independent judicial officer was then required to consider whether that ‘entry point’ should be varied to take into account any mitigating factors (such as the player’s conduct, remorse and plea) and any aggravating factors (such as his previous record and any need for deterrence).

In my view, the Williams knee is much more serious than the Tuitupou tackle, and my instinct at hearing the news of that ban when it broke was that he was lucky to get away with three weeks. Williams’ two weeks doesn’t make sense.

Jamie Cudmore

Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore was banned for 10 weeks at the same hearing for “kicking / stamping / trampling” on Saracens flanker Jacques Burger.

He pleaded not guilty, and whilst there doesn’t seem to be any footage of the incident, the ERC press release had this to say about the decision:

The possible ‘entry points’ for stamping under Law 10.4(b) are lower end: two (2) weeks; mid-range: five (5) weeks; and top end: nine (9) weeks or more. Having determined the appropriate ‘entry point’, the independent judicial officer was then required to consider whether that ‘entry point’ should be varied to take into account any mitigating factors (such as the player’s conduct, remorse and plea) and any aggravating factors (such as his previous disciplinary record and any need for deterrence).

There has often been debate on The Rugby Blog about sanctions, and the theme that always emerges is the need for consistency. These decisions all took place at the same hearing, but even they aren’t consistent with each other.

What do you think? Is Williams’ two week ban enough of a deterrent to other players who might be thinking of kneeing someone in the head?

6 thoughts on “ERC hands out lenient sanctions for cited players

  1. Pretty crappy decision on the Williams citing. Not only that, but after Williams kneed Mossy (Paterson) in the head and they all stood up, the ref yellow carded Paterson without warning, for some offence during that same ruck – the ensuing 10 minutes when he was off turned the game.

  2. You can see the full ERC disciplinary reports here
    http://www.ercrugby.com/eng/news/disciplinary_news.php

    Martyn Williams 2 week ban is a farce, held the player down as he kneed him in the face. I wonder if it’s related to him winning the “ERC15 ‘Fair play Award’ – For the Fairest and Most Sportsmanlike Player in Europe over the past 15 years”
    ERC can’t be seen to have egg on their face following granting him that award 4 months ago?

  3. There’s a massive discrepancy as far as I can see. The ruling says that the lower end of the guidelines is three weeks, yet somehow he’s even come in under that. It makes no sense to me and he should’ve been banned for months in my book. Disgusting, thuggish action that has no part in our game.

  4. Agree that the Williams ban was a farce. Constant need to differentiate between pre-meditated and simply careless/reckless offences. Tuitupou’s hit whilst dangerous and painful-looking, seemed to be a case of a bruiser centre seeing the opportunity to smash someone and Hodgson being in a particularly vulnerable body position (i.e. facing directly away from Tuitupou and standing bolt upright).

    Williams on the other hand, held someone down on the ground and then kneed them in the face. Whilst is clearly a) pre-meditated and b) the hallmark of a complete prick.

  5. Have to agree with OldAlleynian – Tuitupou’s hit was no spear tackle. Not even sure that he should have been cited. William’s 2 week ban is a joke!

  6. Overall agreement here on the Williams Knee and in total support of the fact that this provides no deterrent whatsoever. TWO WEEKS! that reflects too much of life outside of rugby and certainly isn’t enough to keep this beautiful game where it belongs. To coin the old phrase – a thugs game played by gentlemen – please let’s keep it that way. We see too much of this crap creeping in to the game worldwide and it’s time to stop

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