Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Ellison foul play adds to outrage

All Black critics believe Thomson's one-week ban was too lenient, as IRB chief sanctions a review of decision

Stills from video of the Scotland v All Blacks test show Tamati Ellison (12) appearing to put a 'chicken wing' tackle on Ryan Grant. Photo / Supplied
Stills from video of the Scotland v All Blacks test show Tamati Ellison (12) appearing to put a 'chicken wing' tackle on Ryan Grant. Photo / Supplied

Tamati Ellison has been accused of foul play as the spotlight falls on the apparent leniency shown to the All Blacks by the International Rugby Board's judiciary.

In the aftermath of Adam Thomson's one-match ban for his use of the boot against Scotland loose forward Alasdair Strokosch at Murrayfield, the IRB has been sent footage of an incident in the same match which shows All Blacks second-five Ellison grabbing and pinning the right arm of Scotland prop Ryan Grant.

The incident occurred seven minutes into the match and can be clearly seen in the BBC's match coverage. In it Ellison pins Grant's arm behind his back and the loosehead appears to look up in pain. Team-mate Tim Visser, goes to his aid before he is pushed away by All Black Cory Jane. In league, similar incidents, known as "chicken wing" tackles, have created controversy and attracted bans, but Ellison is unlikely to be sanctioned.

The video was sent by a viewer in a tweet to IRB chief executive Brett Gosper as anger grows in the UK over what many, including senior British journalists, consider a lenient ban for Thomson.

Gosper replied to the viewer on Twitter regarding the Ellison incident: "Saw it. Understand. Apparently debatable it would warrant red card according to experts."

Australian Gosper, 53, replaced Mike Miller as the boss of the IRB in July and has embraced the social media platform. But questions will be asked of his frank sharing of opinions regarding the findings of the IRB's judiciary. In a reply to journalists Mick Cleary and Brian Moore, he promised to review the Thomson penalty and has opened himself up to accusations he was bullied into it following a conversation with the former, a writer for the Telegraph.

In reply to Cleary's tweet about the Thomson ban, Gosper wrote: "The IRB will review this case as it is a match under our jurisdiction. If we decide to take action we will make it public."

Cleary replied: "Respect your need to adhere to procedure. Can sense your awareness of mood among fans." To which Gosper said: "Thank you for your understanding which is correct on both counts."

Thomson received a two-match ban but won a reduced sentence due to his clean record and the Scotland player's comments after the match which effectively said the act was not intentional. If Thomson's ban is increased, questions will be asked about how much involvement Gosper had in the decision and whether the player received a fair hearing.

On taking over from the more circumspect Miller, Gosper was adamant he wanted to discuss rugby's issues in a public forum. He recently asked for fans' feedback on the IRB new law trials on Twitter.

"I am not here to just push paper around," he said of his intentions, before adding: "Often they [public] ask about the rules or about the game in general. You have to be a little bit careful as there are one or two minefields here and there but I try to the best of my ability to give an answer and a point of view."

All Black bans

November, 2012: Adam Thomson banned for one match (under review) for use of boot against Scotland's Alasdair Strokosch
November, 2010: Keven Mealamu banned for four matches, reduced to two on appeal, for use of head against England's Lewis Moody
November 2009: Dan Carter banned for one match for high tackle against Wales' Martin Roberts

- NZ Herald

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