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At approximately 1200hrs (Central African Time) on Sunday 16 October 2011, a huge cheer went around at Auckland’s Eden Park stadium when the final whistle was blown and the New Zealand All Blacks completed a deserved 20-6 victory over their neighbours from Australia in the semi finals of the Rugby World Cup. What probably wasn’t captured by the broadcast was the even bigger cheer in South Africa, London, Perth (and numerous other locations around the world where South Africans are living) that the cheating, thieving Australians had finally got their just deserts and were eliminated from the tournament. Justice had been done (accomplished in part by the excellent refereeing of Craig Joubert – a South African of course) and there were few South Africans feeling sorry for the Wallabies.

In the other semi final between France and Wales played the day before, justice again played a significant role in the outcome of the game as the French team squeaked a 9-8 result despite being largely matched and outplayed by 14 Welsh men for approximately 60 minutes, following the straight red card shown to their captain Sam Warburton. For those that did not watch the game, Warburton was issued with a red card for lifting French player Vincent Clerc and then either losing his grip or dropping him which caused Clerc to land on his neck and/or upper body.

In this instance the rugby laws are very clear. If you pick a player up and turn him, with your elbows pointing upwards, you have to be very careful about how you bring your opponent down to earth. Driving him head-first into the ground with your shoulder is outlawed, and correctly so, as this can lead to life and career ending injuries. Lifting a player in the tackle and then dropping him is equally bad as it can result in a similar outcome.

A great blog article by RugbyLaw includes the following excerpt and explanations of the laws of the game of rugby. Law 10 (4) (j) of rugby’s laws states that:

“Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.”

Furthermore, it also states that:

“The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the player’s safety. A red card should be issued for this type of tackle.”

Naturally there has been a great deal of commentary surrounding the decision by referee Alain Rolland to issue the red card. A number of people sympathise with Rolland’s black-and-white interpretation of the rules and agree with the red card decision. On the other hand, there are those who claim that Rolland had a choice and should have used his common sense and interpreted the rules of the game and applied them to this particular incident as Warburton obviously did not intend to drop Clerc. Some have called Warburton the victim of “rigid justice or rough justice

This is where the problems start when refereeing decisions are analysed to death in a post game context, with the aid of several slow motion replays and the benefit of hindsight. In my opinion, Rolland interpreted the black-and-white rules correctly as they were meant to be, regardless of the fact that it was a crucial semi final game. As soon as referees start to apply their own judgement to specific cases, there will be an even bigger outcry around a lack of consistency in interpretation of the rules (yes, Bryce Lawrence that’s specifically for you).

Justice is an interesting concept. One definition of it according to thefreedictionary.com is “the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honour, standards or law”.

From a South African rugby watching perspective, poetic justice tasted extremely sweet as the All Blacks received “reward in accordance with honour”. However, from the Welsh point of view it was not “fair treatment in accordance with standards or law”.

About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....


15 thoughts on “Justice?

  1. Thank goodness the yellow-bellied Aussies are now tending to their gardens at home. I am sure the flight accross the ditch was not too taxing for them. That tackle by Warburton was as dangerous as they come I cannot believe that Welsh supporters are complaining about the ref.We look forward to what I believe is going to be a helluva of a final contrary to what most pundits believe.

    Posted by Phiwani | 17/10/2011, 16:27
  2. Revenge is better served cold…and the All Blacks did just that. I concur, rules should be interpreted as strictly as possible but there is also reason in recognising the enormity of such a decision in a big like this one. We can say the French don’t deserve to be in the final…guess Les Bleu lady luck is smiling.

    Posted by Nkagi | 17/10/2011, 16:27
  3. His decision was 100% right if you look at the wording.If Alain Rolland didn’t do that, he would be going against the laws the IRB put down.

    Posted by Acer 1681 Battery | 17/10/2011, 16:38
  4. Nicely put together.

    With regards to safety of the players, I think the rules should remain black and white and should be enforced, especially in rugby due to it’s physicality.

    On the ‘The Bryce situation’, I believe it was below average officiating on an aspect of the game (the rucks ‘n mauls) where there are more guidelines than rules. Ultimately, it’s up to the official’s discretion, hence this penalties attached to these infringements will never be consistent from one match to another. This same notion applies Sam Warburton’s send-off, whereby Rolland made a judgement-call.

    In any event, it will be a sweet revenge for the AB’s to defeat France, in lieu of their exit from the 2007 World Cup at their hand, in the final.


    Posted by Fr. Gérard Joseph | 17/10/2011, 16:47
  5. Pac, provided the french come out to play this is going to be a game worthy of a final. Personally a French beating will not be enough. French toast a la ABs !!!!!

    As for the fairness of the calls, you win some and you lose some. That’s what make sport so great. if we used all the tech available, there would be less to fight about at the pubs. Hand of god -Maradona anyone….

    Posted by Swissbeatsdiaries | 17/10/2011, 16:58
  6. Not sure what the Bok fans have to be upset about…

    Posted by Njikaldo | 17/10/2011, 17:25
  7. I don’t think there should be any doubt that the red card was indeed justified. It is true that some sportsmen get away with murder simply because a ref “doesn’t want to spoil” a final or a semi.

    Then again others don’t hesitate to pull out the card in accordance with the letter of the law.

    Your argument reminds me of the football world cup where Howard Webb brandished yellow card after yellow card until losing his patience.

    Any the rugby world cup final shouldnt have such problems!

    Posted by Ning | 17/10/2011, 20:22
  8. @ Ticha no cheeky French punts big boy those boys can disappoint however it is a final & history shows that a runaway victory is a rarity. If the Frenchies can keep in touch who knows at the end, the ABs have been rather easy going in the 2nd half.

    Posted by Phiwani | 17/10/2011, 20:40
  9. I feel sorry for some referees because they try their best to be fair by following the rules of the game to the letter.
    Then one or two do their best to bring the game into disrepute.
    I am not watching the live game as I may have a heart attack if my team loses.
    May Justice prevail !

    Posted by Rose Pfupajena | 18/10/2011, 11:42

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Ticha Pfupajena

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