Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Foul play of any kind not acceptable

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James Horwill of the Reds. Photo / Getty Images
James Horwill of the Reds. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby was being ruined and the Reds were robbed, skipper James Horwill ranted after his side caved in once more.

It was the tirade of a man whose Super 15 side is slumping, whose staff lack ideas and whose own form has tailed off this season.

Horwill's outburst came after teammate Ed O'Donoghue was sent off for raking a rival's face in an incident noticed and brought to the referee's attention by the TMO.

Things happen a little differently up in Queensland with the Courier-Mail glorifying further rugby violence yesterday with a picture and story about two blokes fighting in an English premiership match.

The Sunshine State will be irate about the injustices dealt to the Reds, topped off by comments from Horwill that they were 'robbed by a stupid refereeing decision' which is 'ruining the spectacle of Super rugby".

Among things ruining the game are acts of foul play such as O'Donoghue and Jean Deysel produced in a weekend that equalled the list for crimes in any round of this year's Super 15. Eight players were sinbinned and Deysel (stomping) and O'Donoghue (gouging) sent off.

Players tolerate high levels of panelbeating in the modern game, they accept they will be bashed, hammered and attacked all over the park but never around the head or the family jewels. Those areas are sacrosanct.

There was a mature response from Sharks coach Jake White when he commented, adversely, on Deysel lashing out when his foot was held by Crusaders flanker Jordan Taufua.

White's view may have been different had the Sharks not grabbed an extraordinary victory, but it's unlikely.

Contrast that with Horwill's irrational eruption and the mute attendance of his coach Richard Graham.

Was that the silence of a coach who agreed, held the opposite opinion or decided to stay quiet to avoid any fine?

None of that was discovered by the media at Suncorp Stadium - their inquiries seemed to replicate the submissive television commentators.

There were incensed noises from some areas that the foul play incidents were discovered only because of a break in play and the insistence of a TMO and that the increased use of technology would mean a dissection of every piece of footage.

If it means acts of violence are seen and acted on, great, and if stupid acts like Ash Dixon are caught and cost the Hurricanes a win against the Highlanders, all power to the replays and the TMO.

At some stage the message will get through to players and coaches.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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