Now it is mighty hard to unpick intent in offenses but rugby’s authorities will now be tasked with assessing whether these players are trying to deliberately hurt their fellow professionals. In Muller’s case, Harris had passed the ball long before he came across and raised his shoulder into Harris’s jaw. If it wasn’t deliberate then it was as reckless a tackle as I have seen this season. No such benefit of the doubt can be applied to Latu, who has already received two red and six yellow cards. Quite simply the Australian hooker is a menace to his fellow professionals.
Porter may well have to serve a suspension but if Muller and especially Latu play another game this season then something is wrong in the system. Porter got his tackle technique and timing wrong, Muller and Latu came mighty close to GBH. The problem is when Porter and Latu are treated in the same continent – mid range offenses, downgraded by 50 per cent for supposed contrition – and everyone ends up with a two-three week ban.
Even within the rigid framework of a disciplinary system, has to be flexibility for authorities to throw the book at its worst offenders. The message needs to come across loud and clear that there is no place for these type of actions in the game, otherwise it risks losing all respect from both players and supporters.
As the tragic events in South Africa underline, rugby is a dangerous enough sport as it is without thugs like Latu and Muller further threatening the health of their fellow professionals.
Seeing red: Should Leicester’s Guy Porter Have Been Sent Off?
By Charles Richardson in Clermont-Ferrand
It is a hung jury, there is no unanimous verdict. When Leicester center Guy Porter was sent off for a gut-wrenching head collision with Clermont No. 8 Fritz Lee in the Tigers’ mammoth win in France on Sunday, the referee’s decision to brandish a red card divided the room.
Live, it must be said, it seeds incredibly harsh – but it would have taken minerals the size of the nearby Puy de Dôme from referee Nika Amashukeli to not cede to the baying crowd’s demands for a red card at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. The Georgian, it should be noted, had an otherwise excellent match but his workings-out for the Porter red card require further scrutiny. Yes, there was good contact and, yes, Leicester’s center was upright when such contact was made, but this did seem like one of those excessively rare instances where nothing untoward had taken place and, in essence, was unfortunate. “A rugby incident,” as those more fashionable than I love to bleat.
Leicester captain Ellis Genge after the match magnanimously conceded that the sanction was “probably” correct. “He’s standing upright, good is good,” he said. “It is what it is.” Jono Gibbes, Clermont Auvergne’s director of rugby, went full Arsene Wenger, stating that he hadn’t seen it clearly enough. When pressed, however, Gibbes highlighted the need for player safety and shifted slightly uncomfortably in his seat.
And with good reason. It was not an easy decision for Amashukeli to make. Before we get into the minutiae of the decision-making, let us revise the incident itself.
Below, you can see Leicester center Porter just above the scoreboard; his head is off-camera. Opposite him is Lee, whose head is also off-camera. The ball is in the hands of Clermont and former France fly-half Camille Lopez, with his back to the camera and 10 on his back: