Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Hore gets cheap discount

All Black hooker Andrew Hore (left) will effectively get a three-match discount on whatever ban he cops. Photo / Getty Images
All Black hooker Andrew Hore (left) will effectively get a three-match discount on whatever ban he cops. Photo / Getty Images

Whatever sanction is handed to Andrew Hore for his cheap shot on Bradley Davies, a fundamental flaw in the International Rugby Board's regulations means the All Blacks hooker will get a three-match discount on his ban.

One of the IRB's "core principles" is that each match is regarded as equal - whether that's a test in front of 80,000 at Twickenham or a run-around with Invercargill Marist in front of a windswept two men and a dog at Sandy Point Domain.

If we assume Hore is given more than a one-week ban for his hit on the Wales lock at Cardiff, which is extremely likely (a top-end ban for striking with the arm is eight weeks), he will miss Sunday morning's test against England, with his suspension continuing into Super rugby next year with the Highlanders.

The problem for those who don't see a place in the game for foul play is that the Highlanders have scheduled three pre-season matches for 2013 and they will count, despite the fact Hore wouldn't have played in any of them.

In this era of almost continuous rugby, it is rare for an All Black to play a pre-season match for his Super rugby franchise, which is understandable, but the automatic wiping of three weeks from Hore's suspension isn't as easy to get to grips with.

Hore isn't the first to benefit from this unusual - by international sporting standards - policy. When Springbok prop Dean Greyling smashed Richie McCaw in the face with his forearm in a test in Dunedin this year he was given only a two-week ban - effectively a slap on the wrist - but what made it worse was that Greyling missed only one test. South Africa had the following week off, but Greyling's Currie Cup club, the Blue Bulls, didn't, so he was not able to play for them, even though he wouldn't have been available anyway.

It's time, then, for the IRB to get in the real world and take a leaf out of soccer's book. Under the regulations of Fifa, soccer's global body, if you commit a crime in a Champions League match, that's where you do the time. Similarly, a ban handed down for an offence in a Premier League match is served in that competition. A recent example in New Zealand was All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss effectively missing the World Cup in South Africa two years ago after his four-match ban for abusing a match official in a World Cup qualifier against Fiji in 2008.

Rugby has been let down by too many inconsistent rulings on foul play this year. It's time for an overhaul, and while they're at it, the IRB would do well to look at a core principle which doesn't appear to have any relevance in today's world.

Steve Hansen, who is resigned to losing one of his most experienced players for the England test, was appealing for calm in the Hore storm.

"That is what happens every time we come up here. I think they think we are thugs or something but we don't play differently to anyone else," Hansen said. "I think we have shown plenty of times over the last 12 months that we are a disciplined side. If you look at the incidents that have surrounded Richie we have not jumped in and made it a big scene.

"We pride ourselves on playing good rugby and yes we are physical and we don't take any backward steps - and we don't expect our opposition to do that either - but we don't go out there to do things [foul play] intentionally."

A final word on Hore's act - new wide angle footage from the BBC has provided some context to his moment of madness only 40 seconds into the game at Millennium Stadium.

Hore was chasing a kick and had his progress blocked by Davies, who looked behind him twice and changed direction three times in order to block the All Black.

This will be used as mitigation but the fact remains it was an ugly act and it's likely to be the one enduring memory of this tour.
What they're saying

Hore's brutal and cowardly assault ... went unnoticed, a reminder that the All Blacks can resemble a gang of smash-and-grab experts sauntering up and down Bond Street breaking windows and stealing gold watches while the beat bobbies are concentrating on minor traffic violations.

Richard Williams, The Guardian

New Zealand play lovely rugby but they are not lovely sportsmen ... It is a charge that follows them through the ages: the glitter of their skills is countered by their cynicism.

Eddie Butler, The Observer

A resounding defeat ... featured the worst excesses of the All Blacks as Hore launched a shocking, cowardly assault on Bradley Davies - putting him out of the game before he had even touched the ball.

Mick Collins, Daily Mail

- APNZ

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