Rugby

Guscott wants referees to 'look harder' at All Blacks

2016-11-21 19:52
Jeremy Guscott (Gallo Images)

London - England great Jeremy Guscott has called on referees to "look harder" when dealing with New Zealand players after two All Blacks were cited following the world champions' win over Ireland.

Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane now both face the possibility of being banned ahead of Saturday's match against France in Paris after they were each cited for "tackling an opponent dangerously" during New Zealand's 21-9 victory in Dublin last weekend.

Jaco Peyper sin-binned Fekitoa, who scored two of New Zealand's three tries, for a high tackle on Simon Zebo.

But the South African referee merely awarded a penalty for a high challenge by flanker Cane on Robbie Henshaw in the 11th minute at Lansdowne Road last Saturday that saw the centre leave the field on a stretcher.

Henshaw, who scored the clinching try as the Irish beat New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago a fortnight earlier for a first ever win over New Zealand in 111 years of matches between the countries, could now miss Ireland's international against Australia in Dublin on Saturday because of concussion.

There is a widespread belief in much of the global rugby community that New Zealand 'get away' with acts for which players from any other side are punished.

Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton reacted to the lack of any colour card for Cane by telling Peyper on the field: "What? A penalty? But the player's on the stretcher."

Peyper's decision to let Cane play came just weeks after World Rugby, the sport's global governing body, urged referees to be "especially vigilant" when dealing with head-high tackles

Former England centre Guscott, now a rugby analyst for the BBC, said officials had to be "better" at punishing the All Blacks.

"Referees need to look harder at New Zealand," Guscott wrote in his BBC column.

"The All Blacks have to watch their high tackles -- they have got a reputation for it and have had two players cited from Saturday -- but for all that, you can't blame the players.

"I'm not one who thinks their players go out there to hurt anyone illegally," insisted Guscott, who also played Test rugby for the British and Irish Lions.

"There is ferocity in everything they do and they take everything to the limit, but it is up to the referee to be better at seeing and penalising them."

As for the incident that ended Henshaw's match last Saturday, Guscott said: "If Cane had been sin-binned you could not have argued.

"For me, what determined that was a yellow card was that it was shoulder first. His left arm seemed to be angled behind his shoulder and he hit Henshaw's head."

An autumn international disciplinary statement issued Sunday said: "Sam Cane, the New Zealand flank forward, has been cited for allegedly tackling an opponent dangerously in the 11th minute of the first half of the match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium (Law 10.4 e).

"Malakai Fekitoa, the New Zealand centre, has also been cited, for allegedly tackling an opponent dangerously in the same match (Law 10.4 e)."

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