Blues player Ali Williams appeared before a SANZAR Judicial Committee in Wellington this evening having been cited for a dangerous tackle on a Chiefs player in the Rebel Sport Super 14 match between the Blues and the Chiefs at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday 13 May.
The Judicial Committee comprised Bruce Squire QC (Chairman) and rugby administrators Mattie Blackburn and Graham Williams. Williams was represented by Blues Manager Ant Strachan and legal representative Michelle Banfield.
The incident was seen by a Touch Judge and reported to the Referee who penalised Williams for the offence, on the recommendation of the Touch Judge.
Under the Rules which govern the manner in which the Committee is required to deal with foul play which has been seen and dealt with by match officials on the field of play, the Committee may only intervene if it concludes that the Referee’s reasons for dealing with the incident in the manner he did were wrong.
Committee Chairman Bruce Squire QC said that, despite initial impressions, after careful consideration of all the evidence put before it, including video footage of the incident, the Committee was satisfied that, contrary to the Citing Commissioner’s report, Williams had used, or had endeavoured to use, his arms in the tackle and that the point of contact between Williams and the Chiefs player was in the upper area of the chest rather than the area of the neck as alleged by the Citing Commissioner.
In the Committee’s view, accordingly, the only aspect of the tackle which made it dangerous was that it was effected late. It was satisfied that the tackle was made without any malicious intent on William’s part.
The Chiefs player received assistance after the tackle but did not sustain any injury of significance.
Treating the tackle as dangerous, only in the sense that it was late, the Committee took the view that it was no more culpable than many tackles of a similar kind which are routinely dealt with on the field of play by the awarding of a penalty only.
Accordingly, the Committee concluded that the Referee was not wrong to have dealt with the incident on the field of play as he did, and in terms of the applicable Rules governing the Committee’s deliberations, no further penalty was imposed.