Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Condemnation only right stance on assault

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Andrew Hore's move from shooting seals to clubbing Wales not a joking matter.

A big statement emerged from Camp All Blacks but not the one a lot of us were hoping for this week.

Dan Carter tweeted that his wife, Honor, was five months pregnant, and the happy couple have somewhat surprisingly decided to share this joyous news with the world five days out from a test match, although at a time when the All Blacks' PR machine will delight in the helping hand.

We are all so delighted and shortly the Carters will be deep in a substance not unfamiliar to the All Black hooker Andrew Hore right now.

The Carters will be more chipper than the Welsh lock Bradley Davies, who had trouble remembering his few seconds' worth of Sunday's test at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium after being assaulted from behind by Hore.

The All Black No 2 has won lasting infamy of Richard Loe proportions - the jokers are noting that having once been convicted of shooting a protected seal, Hore has progressed to clubbing Wales.

Laughter is not the only medicine required here, though.

Rather than Carter baby talk, it's time for adult-speak from someone like All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, team manager Darren Shand or perhaps even Hore himself, once the judicial process is completed.

Assistant coach Ian Foster, who will accompany Hore to that hearing, has - quite rightly - refused to comment before Hore has his day in the sport's court, the problem being that Hansen has already mumbled unwisely on the subject.

Hansen - he has been superb in almost every regard in his initial year as head coach - has misread this situation so far, offering what rates as a mealy-mouthed excuse for Hore's swinging arm which sent Davies to hospital. Players and teams don't always respond well to criticism from their bosses, so the All Blacks are treading a tricky line here, but they've got to see this as a serious situation that can't be cleaned up with a few baby wipes.

Davies (as an overhead camera shows) mildly obstructed Hore a la what occurs hundreds of times in a season, if any excuse-makers dare suggest Hore faced skulduggery so rare it made his blood boil over. Then, as Davies veered towards his side of the ruck, Hore swung at the taller man, connected with the jaw, and then landed his knees on him. There is only one position on this: it must be condemned, by All Blacks and all. If players can assault errant opponents then rugby fields will look like hospital waiting rooms.

Putting the moral standpoint aside briefly, Hansen should be furious with Hore strategy-wise, because he could have cost New Zealand the test, has disrupted the lead-up to Sunday's clash with England and left the All Blacks front row short-handed.

This is a ghost to haunt Hansen all the way to the next World Cup, and doesn't help the justifiable All Black campaign to stop attacks against the great Richie McCaw. (If the All Blacks and/or their acolytes offer Davies' alleged obstruction as an excuse for Hore's thuggery, McCaw might be extra lucky to stay in one piece because he pushes the rules more than most).

Hansen has offered sneaky little escape routes, such as "we don't go out there to do things intentionally". Pre-game intent is not the point - Hore fully intended to nail Davies with a blindside strike to the head.

Furthermore, Hansen claimed "that is what happens every time we come up here. I think they think we're thugs or something but we don't play differently to anyone else". None of this is relevant to a specific incident, and is at odds with Foster's no comment position.

Hansen, let down by a senior player, has backtracked to an age when rugby violence was even admired and what happened on the field stayed there, if possible. There doesn't seem to be any concern for Davies' health or lost-test disappointment.

In stark contrast, the Springboks were abjectly apologetic and severely critical of Dean Greyling's attack on McCaw this year, before the matter had even got to a hearing. I don't recall it being accompanied by any births, deaths or marriages-type tweets, or implications they were victims of a conspiracy. People I have spoken to or heard from are appalled by Hore's action, and are in no mood for the usual sidestep.


Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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