Rugby League

All Blacks prop Ofa Tu‘ungafasi banned for rest of season for high tackle on Wallabies winger Tom Wright

The All Blacks have suffered another setback ahead of Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash against Argentina at Bankwest Stadium with prop Ofa Tu‘ungafasi ruled out for the rest of 2020 after being suspended for a tackle on Wallabies winger Tom Wright that was deemed dangerous.

Tu‘ungafasi was sent off and ordered to front the SANZAAR Judicial Committee after he made contact with Wright’s head in the first half of Australia’s 24-22 win at Suncorp Stadium.

Charged with a ‘mid-range’ foul that has an entry point sanction of six weeks, Tu‘ungafasi was given a reduced ban of three matches after he pleaded guilty and his previously unblemished record was taken into consideration.

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Ofa Tu’ungafasi will miss the rest of the Tri Nations series.Source:AFP


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The three-match suspension rules him out of the All Blacks’ two remaining matches against the Pumas and means he won’t be able to play against until New Zealand’s domestic Super Rugby competition kicks off in late February 2021.

World Rugby’s heavy handed clampdown on high tackles has been slammed by past players claiming administrators are hopelessly out of touch with the physical nature of the game, with former All Blacks winger John Kirwan taking aim.

“I believe that the protocols are wrong and we need to change them,” Kirwan told New Zealand’s Sky Sports.

“We need a decision from World Rugby, but this century. Not until something else happens. Lives are at stake, people’s salaries (are at stake).

“There’s a lot going on now in the professional sport. I think rugby league does a better job at making quick decisions.”

The All Blacks take on the Pumaas this weekend.Source:AFP

But current players say they know and understand the rules so have to abide by them whether they like them or not.

“Personally, it doesn‘t matter how it’s reffed or ruled, as long as it’s consistent from the referee and judiciary,“ said All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, who was on the receiving end of a clumsy tackle from Lachie Swinton that resulted in the Wallabies enforcer copping a four match suspension.

“Our job as players is to make sure we train and learn what we can and can‘t do, so if it’s lowering our tackle height, if it’s wrapping our arms in a tackle, it all goes from there.”

Lachie Swinton banned 4 games

Rugby: Wallaby Lachie Swinton has been banned for the next four games for the Wallabies after he was sent off against the All Blacks.

All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree said the rules were designed to protect players so they better get used to it.

“I know there‘s been a bit of a noise about it after the weekend but the rules say what foul play is and we’ve got an obligation to make sure that players are safe,” he said.

“When we‘re coaching our players, individually and collectively, we’re always talking about body height and making sure that in contact that we do the right thing and target the right areas.

Ardie Savea played last Saturday night without a mouthguard.Source:Getty Images

“At times players are going to get that wrong under pressure and we saw that on the weekend.”

Breaching the laws meant to protect players has landed All Blacks No. 8 Ardie Savea in hot water after he was reported for not wearing a mouthguard in the loss to the Wallabies.

Although not a mandatory requirement under World Rugby regulations, New Zealand players are obliged to wear mouthguards as part of their collective agreement, not only to protect their own teeth but also to set an example to younger players of the game.

“We are aware of the issue and will be working through it with all our players,” New Zealand Rugby’s general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said in a statement.

Don’t blow it against the Pumas

– Tim Horan

Beating the All Blacks is always huge because it’s the pinnacle test for the Wallabies, but there’s another big challenge coming up against Argentina.

Brisbane was buzzing after last week’s Bledisloe Cup win.

I went for a morning walk on Sunday in Brisbane and counted six Wallaby jerseys being worn in the park or at a coffee shop. I think maybe two hadn’t been home from the match.

The Wallabies proved too strong against the All Blacks in Brisbane last Saturday night.Source:Getty Images

We’ve seen that all before so the Wallabies have got to make sure they back that up because if they lose at home to Argentina the balloon will burst again.

The Pumas have beaten the Wallabies on Aussie soil before and they’ll be up for these matches, so there’s no way Dave Rennie and his players should be treating them lightly.

The win over the All Blacks won’t mean a thing if the Wallabies come out and lose to Argentina. Rugby is all about momentum and not just one off performances.

There was some talk at the start of the Tri-Nations about giving some players who weren’t in the 23-man squad a chance against Argentina. I would urge against making too many changes though as blooding youngsters is not a luxury we can afford.

There are one or two players who definitely deserve – and have earned the right – for a spot on the bench, and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t be making a heap of changes as the Wallabies really need to start building those combinations.

Anyone who gets a gold jersey needs to earn it, and I don’t think Dave Rennie’s a coach who will be giving them away lightly. He’s made it clear that the only way to get picked is by performing either on the field or in training.

We saw that last week by the way players responded when they came in.

Tom Wright has a ‘real presence about him’.Source:Getty Images

I’ve always been impressed with Tom Wright, so I wasn’t surprised that he played so well. He’s got very good footwork and just has a real presence about him.

I’m also a really big fan of Lachie Swinton, especially after he just got himself a lot fitter this season. It was very unfortunate that he got a red card because it was just poor timing, which can happen very quickly on the field.

By the letter of the law referee Nic Berry was right to send him off because we do need to look after the welfare and safety of players, but World Rugby also needs to take a closer look at whether there are better options available for when players get sent off.

Reece Hodge did a great job filling in at flyhalf, but I expect he’s still better suited on the bench because of his versatility. The No.10 role still worries me.

I’m not sure whether James O’Connor and Matt Toomua will still be around for the next World Cup in 2023 so we need to start unearthing a couple more No.10s.

At this stage, there’s only Noah Lolesio and Will Harrison, but they will both need a bit more time and patience.

I thought Lolesio was much better coming off the bench than when he started and that’s how he should be utilised in the short term.

Noah Lolesio is going to need time to grow into the Wallabies role.Source:Getty Images

He picked up the pace of the game straight away when he came on.. I’d just give him 15-20 minutes each week to let him ease his way into Test rugby. His best days are ahead of him.

The challenge for Dave Rennie’s squad now is to build on the win over the All Blacks so that rugby fans are sitting around the Christmas table next month having a second serving of glazed ham, and already thinking about booking tickets to the next Rugby World Cup in three years’ time knowing the Wallabies have a real shot.

Originally published asGet use to it! Rule here to stay as bans bank up

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