Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

All Blacks: Sorry Hore hit with five week ban

A remorseful Andrew Hore says he let the nation down with his swinging arm challenge that knocked out Welsh lock Bradley Davies and that he deserves the five-week suspension with which he's been administered.

Hore pleaded guilty to the charge of striking Davies in the first minute of the All Blacks' 33-10 victory in Cardiff last Sunday and was handed an eight-week suspension that was reduced to five on the grounds he has shown genuine remorse by apologising to Davies and his previously clean record.

"I want to say how bad I feel and how embarrassed I am to be in this situation," said Hore. "It is not the All Black way and I have let myself down and the team and probably the whole country is pretty proud of what we do.

"I hope Bradley Davies does recover and get back up and running and play in the Heineken Cup as soon as he can. I have been on the phone and talked to him on Sunday about the incident and obviously the All Black management and the leader group that I am a part of has been pretty stern on me for getting us into this situation and I have to take what I have got and go back and start building a reputation as a good, clean, hard footy player and hopefully I can do that in the next Super Rugby competition when I get back playing."

The mood in the All Black camp in the aftermath of Hore's suspension was one of resigned acceptance and relief. The coaches and senior players have known since they first saw the video footage that Hore was going to be in trouble for his actions.

Despite the hysteria of some commentators who have even gone as far to call for Hore to be banned for life, the All Blacks have been willing to accept the 34-year-old was attempting to hook Davies out of the way rather than deliberately strike him from behind.

The judicial officer noted that Hore made contact with an open hand and that his intention was to reach around Davies' shoulders and try to move him out of the way.

The challenge ended up being horribly executed when Hore's arm came over the top of Davies' shoulders and cracked the lock on the jaw - knocking him unconscious.

It was ultimately both a bad decision and a bad execution rather than a malicious and deliberate assault.

"We haven't said anything on this issue before because there has been a hearing," said All Black assistant coach Ian Foster who attended the hearing in Bristol with Hore.

"It is nice to hear Andrew express remorse for Bradley. It was good to put some context around the situation. Andrew has been suspended at the high level but he's accepted responsibility, he (has) more than 300 first-class games, he's been a leader and his character over that time period has been exemplary.

"This one incident he has accepted, he has fronted up for it and he has been punished."

Five matches Hore will miss:
Test match - All Blacks v England, Dec 2
Pre-season - Highlanders v Chiefs, Taupo, Feb 2
Pre-season - Highlanders v Crusaders, Oamaru, Feb 8
Pre-season - Highlanders v Blues, Queenstown, Feb 15
Super 15 - Highlanders v Chiefs, Dunedin, Feb 22

- Herald on Sunday

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