SANZAR: No precedent set

2011-06-01 15:20

Brenden Nel - SuperSport

Johannesburg - SANZAR’s decision not to impose any punishment on Highlanders wing Siale Piutau for retaliatory punching does not constitute a precedent that could come back to haunt the organisation, CEO Greg Peters said on Wednesday.

VIDEO: Michael Rhodes's dangerous tackle

VIDEO: Jean Deysel's dangerous tackle

There has been widespread unhappiness that Piutau was exonerated of any sanction despite being found guilty by a SANZAR tribunal of foul play. Lions flank Michael Rhodes received a six-match ban for a “dangerous headlock” on the Highlanders wing, which prompted Piutau to plant two punches to the back of Rhodes’s head.

A fight broke out as a result of the incident and Piutau is seen throwing another punch in the melee, but despite it being unlawful to retaliate and punching considered an offence, the wing was not handed any ban at all.

Judicial officer Nick Davidson said Piutau had escaped sanction because of "the exceptional circumstances" of the incident. "While the player admitted to foul play he had been seriously compromised in the incident involving Rhodes," he said.

"Piutau's reaction was that of someone who had been seriously endangered (and) to impose a sanction in these circumstances would not reflect the effect on Piutau of the incident and a reaction that was the product of shock rather than retaliatory intent."

There has been much concern that SANZAR have now created a precedent whereby retaliation can be a defence in a hearing, based on “shock” rather than “intent”.

But SANZAR CEO Peters denies this, saying while the decision was bold, it was a fair one which the SANZAR hierarchy supported.

“The Judicial officer was clear in his final decision that there was mitigating circumstances, and this allowed him to exercise discretion, as he can in terms of Regulation 17, and not impose a penalty,” Peters said. “He believed, after viewing the evidence, that it was more a reaction out of shock and that there was no retaliatory intent. This is clearly not a precedent, as there have been sanctions for striking before.

“The judicial officer acknowledged it was foul play, and as we have seen before, a punch thrown on the field doesn’t always result in a red card. There was a Reds player a few weeks back that also escaped sanction for punching and it is the nature of the circumstances. It isn’t a clear cut situation and it was mitigated by the extraordinary circumstances.”

Peters also rejected claims in some quarters that there was a bias against South African players by SANZAR judiciaries, but said there could be more consistency in decisions by the Southern Hemisphere governing body.

“There have been three cases in South Africa, cited by a South African citing commissioner, that were rejected by a South African judicial officer. We always do strive for consistency, and it is something we are constantly working on.

“It is not that one country is disadvantaged, but the nature of the process is that once you take it across countries and there are more people involved, there is subjectivity that comes into play. We are trying our best to make it a process of consistent subjectivity.”

Peters said he had confidence in the various citing commissioners but said there needed to be a more consistent dealing of punishment.

“We view the weekly citing reports of the incidence and we have the confidence in the citing commissioners that they are doing a good job in all three countries. The referred penalty by the judiciaries is more of a concern for us.”


  • WernerE - 2011-06-01 15:31

    Next player to be cited for retaliation will be an south african and he will be banned for al least a month. Watch this space...

  • watalife - 2011-06-01 15:32

    Great to see the consistency once again. He should have received a 4 week ban for his actions.

  • Cire - 2011-06-01 15:38

    Come on, be reasonable here guys - Piutau could easily have been crippled for life. The 'tackle' would not have been acceptable in a street brawl. He should be commended for showing such restraint!

      Hannes Visser - 2011-06-01 15:48

      And yet he still had enough in the tank to throw three decent punches!!!

      WernerE - 2011-06-01 15:48

      What Rhodes did was wrong, but what Piutau did was also wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right

      ChrisG - 2011-06-01 15:50

      You speak of "dangerous"... Did you know that even in the UFC (cage fighting) they're not allowed to punch someone in the back of the head because of the damage it can cause?

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-01 15:59

      @Cire - mate, to be honest, most would have klapped the sh*te out of Rhodes. BUT: a precedent (a legal one) that now ALLOWS players to punch others in the back of the head if there are "special circumstances", is a very dangerous one indeed. The legal implications alone will have these "administrators" spinning like hamsters on a wheel for years to come. (The realisation as to what they have in fact done, in terms of condoning retaliation, is already starting to worry them - hence the little "we made the right decision statement") Mate, SANZAR have put the refs in a pretty cr@p position as well. They are supposed to punish retaliation on the field......yet NOT punishing retaliatory violence, is now precedent. They have F2RKED UP - good and proper - end of.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-01 16:15

      and to add @Cire: wait until the first school kid (1st team at an affluent rugby school) throws a set of punches in "retaliation with special circumstances" - and his attorney RIPS the disciplinary committee a new one.........yes, this is just what rugby needed........NOT.

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-01 17:22

      @ChrisG - is that what happened to you? @Cire - I dont care what any of these people say here - any man would have given Rhodes a warm ear, and I understand that. These people who are crying foul, would have backed their player all the way if the roles were reversed. @SAFFA - when I mentioned Elstadt throwing a punch, you werent outraged by it - and I believe he hurt the guy.

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-06-02 08:45

      So either Piutau did not throw a punch or two or even three or retaliation is acceptable under "Special Circumstances"... Did you see the spear tackle by Slipper against a Lion in week two? Or the dangerous hit by SBW on Kanko in London, no - I suppose not! Just like no one saw the spear tackle on John Smit by Brad Thorn or the illegal by Tana Umanga on Brian o'Driscoll...Please, time for SA to get out of SANZAR!

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-02 09:19

      @GraemeBB - I am being critical of the legal precedent that has been set mate, not the bells and whistles that led to the incident in question. For me it is about a standard that has now been cast in stone - in terms of "retaliation". I am not critical of the fact that he punched, but of the fact that he successfully 'defended' his action with the judiciary.

  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-01 15:39

    AWESOME. (Not) Open season for punching now. I don't like the way player B cleared me out, I punch him, and all I have to do is say "I felt my life was in danger....". Great. This is going to come back to bite the sh*te out of them in the future. The legal teams of respective unions/national teams should already be working overtime to prepare a generic defence for EVERY player who WILL now (guaranteed) be cited for retaliation. Once a precedent is set - and a legal one at that, it's open season. Fisty cuffs they are a coming......and best of all, approved by SANZAR (and because Sanzar are an entity of the IRB......may the rugby gods help the IRB during the world cup! If ONE player is punished for retaliation - the appeals will crush the IRB) STOOOOPID frikkin toilet brushes.

  • kyle schutte - 2011-06-01 15:41

    What a load of shite! If this was the other way round and the South African player had retaliated from "shock" he would've been banned for a longer period than the guy doing the headlock..... Besides which, where is the consistency here? Jean Deysel did the exact same thing and he only got 2 weeks.

      Grunk - 2011-06-01 16:58

      Kyle, have another look. Deysel's was kindergarten stuff to Rhodes' one - that really could have killed the oke.

  • TrueSaffa - 2011-06-01 15:44

    What a joke!

  • Shorts1 - 2011-06-01 15:45

    Two wrongs don't make a right. Both players should be punished. What they have now done is to create a dangerous precedent that retaliation is OK under certain ( unspecified ) circumstance. Policing this ruling will be a nightmare. Hopefully none of these narrow minded, heavily biaised officials will be involved in any way in the upcoming RWC in New Zealand. Their decision stinks!!!!

  • jock van wyk - 2011-06-01 15:47

    if he punched he is guilty bottom line

  • - 2011-06-01 15:49

    So it is OK to retaliate, great this changes things will get my guys to sort out any body who harms us as long as it is directly after and you look harmed. LOL should have been given two week ban fortaking law into own hands

  • Couch Critic - 2011-06-01 15:50

    So anybody can retaliate. Next dangerous tackle will be the beginning of a fight again.

  • Robynsky - 2011-06-01 15:50

    I think this one is going to come back to Haunt them. Rhodes was wrong no doubt, but 6 weeks? I dont know. If that had been an Ozzie or aan all black --- 3 weeks max.

  • Hannes Visser - 2011-06-01 15:51

    Note at what the report is saying Highlanders (NZ) player not cited, then it goes on saying Reds player (AUS) also escaped a ban a few weeks ago for punching... No Bias???

  • Clive - 2011-06-01 15:53

    Of course a precedent has been set, you clowns. Sure the "tackle" by Rhodes was appalling and he got what he deserved, but now the way is open for anyone throwing a punch to use severe provocation as a mitigating factor. Is is cynical to suggest that no South African player will ever get away with this defence? In the Rhodes/Piutau case, the judicial officer, if he genuinely felt that immediate suspension was not warranted - and I'm not saying that it wasn't - should have found Piutau guilty, given him a severe warning, and banned him for 2-3 weeks, suspended until the end of the Super season.

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:13

      Good point mate serve him a suspended sentence to the end of the S15. But now they have screwed themselves the short sighted numbnuts.

  • The_Fox - 2011-06-01 16:00

    Imagine if Schalk or Bakkies retaliated? 6/7/8 week ban?

  • Claude - 2011-06-01 16:05

    SANZAR is just trying to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. The comments to date and the fact that they have to make this statement proves it. They are just to secure in thinking what they say is fact. But as Churchill once said, "You can fool some of the people all off the time and all of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time." They are actually fooling themselves!

      DAMAINMAN - 2011-06-01 16:49


  • StBad - 2011-06-01 16:13

    ABSOLUTE TOTAL AND UTTER DISGRACE SANZAR! Michael Rhodes deserves his suspension but a proper retaliatory punch after the incident deserves the applicable suspension! This decision will be the downfall of SANZAR, it will be used a precedent.

  • Superdude - 2011-06-01 16:15

    Greg Peters his from New Zealand? Having read this article I am now more convinced that these guys suck thumb when it comes to making decisions…His justifications are so vague and random in my opinion. I am by no means insinuating bias against South Africa, just inconsistence, which is so frustrating “…and as we have seen before, a punch thrown on the field doesn’t always result in a red card. There was a Reds player a few weeks back that also escaped sanction for punching and it is the nature of the circumstances. It isn’t a clear cut situation and it was mitigated by the extraordinary circumstances.” Retaliation is retaliation….a punch is a punch

      Met Uysh! - 2011-06-02 08:31

      If I recall correctly it was also a Highlanders player who threw punches like an MMA fighter on Andries Bekker when they played at Newlands. Also no citing. But if you headbutt or trip someone, your days are numbered.

  • Booswig Visagie - 2011-06-01 16:15


      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:17

      And SARU a bunch of boneless,spineless twads.

  • Gorilla - 2011-06-01 16:17

    Hmmm. I wonder if Bakkies or Schalk had retaliated with a few biscuits to some kiwi, if they would have been treated with the same leniency? Somehow I doubt it.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-06-01 16:33

      They will be treated with leniency now :) Tis precedent. In fact, I would love to test this precedent.

  • wdi - 2011-06-01 16:26

    Looking at the video Piutau also throws punches at another Lion's player. Sanzar should be Nzarsa as we are forever sucking right at the rear.

      Superdude - 2011-06-01 17:15

      Yup, he tried to get stuck into Minnie - well after the initial incident - still in shock would probably be Zanzars answer.

  • Juggernaut - 2011-06-01 16:38

    Bakkies was in shock when illegally held back by that vuilgat AB scrunhalf player last year.

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:19

      I would have liked to get stuck into that little turd as he is always looking for shyte.

  • Niekie - 2011-06-01 16:43

    And again the spineless, useless, slapgat sa rugbyboard will say nothing! Bunch of f@ckheads getting paid for nothing! Viva SA Viva!

  • The Dutchman - 2011-06-01 16:45

    Nice, so next time someone tackles me dangerously and I feel "seriously compromised",I am free to throw a few punches?

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:21

      And in the process dislocating his jaw and it will be ok...LOL. You have legal ground now as the gods of rugby allows it.

      Met Uysh! - 2011-06-02 08:32

      Exactly. Shock is the legal way of retaliating!

  • Christo Strydom - 2011-06-01 16:45

    If you ever wanted to see the face of a bull$hitter - look at the top right of this article.

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:22

      He more likely look like a d!ckhead!!!LOL.

  • Andrew - 2011-06-01 16:56

    you all bunch of twats - grow a back bone and make a decision to stand by, it is ridiculous how you let that incident slide, had he seen a south african player throw 3 punches to the head he would of have had 6 weeks and a red card !!!! Waste our time

  • DAMAINMAN - 2011-06-01 16:56


  • JC - 2011-06-01 17:07

    Next time the referee makes a shocking decision, the players should throw a few punches in his direction, because they're in "shock". This so rediculous.

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:24

      Because he made a bad discision you are in shock should look good on the argument...

  • clivegoss - 2011-06-01 17:11

    Mr Peters sir, retaliation, regardless of the circumstances, loses the retaliator his right to the penalty and exposes the player to sanction. Check your latest rule book. That rule is older that the game itself it incorporates " spirit of the game" and has been around since Pontius Pilot was a pupil pilot

  • Grey B - 2011-06-01 17:14

    Imagine Sonny Bill took Bakkies around the neck, Bakkies stood up, moered him three times, ran to more conflict and moered more people. what do you think would the outcome have been.

      JC - 2011-06-01 17:44

      Bakkies would never play again and war would break out between NZ and SA.

      Jacques - 2011-06-01 20:24

      Ouch cannot imagine.

      Met Uysh! - 2011-06-02 08:33

      I would have been shocked that SBW tried to tackle someone. I would be so shocked, I'd have to punch someone!

  • gregory.f.dean - 2011-06-01 17:23

    It is decisions such as above that causes confusion. Punching is against the laws and spirit of the game. Punches thrown in the future will now be argued that these (it) was justifiable. It was a crap decison. Rhodes was punched twice to the back of the head. Again, what a rubbish decision.

  • Salomon - 2011-06-01 18:01

    Compose a song: Greg Peters looks like an idiot, talks like an idiot, etc. Get someone to make a CD and send it to him and SANZAR.

  • Dirk - 2011-06-01 18:06

    I tell you if i was twisted like that i would have smashed the living daylights out of Rhodes. But retaliation is retaliation. Should get the same punishment like the boys from SA always get.

  • SportCritic - 2011-06-01 20:42

    Hahahaha........Greg Peters, plonker of the year at SANZAR!. Man oh man, I can't wait for Stuart DICKenson to turn Judicial officer - only he can do worse!!!. By the way, Mr. Peters, can you please name the three players and incidents you're referring to when saying ''There have been three cases in South Africa, cited by a South African citing commissioner, that were rejected by a South African judicial officer''? - pretty lame attempt to even try and justify your outrageous decion there MATE!!. IMO you Kiwis are opening the door for ol' Sonny B Williams to throw some punches ''legally'' during the RWC - don't you have a history of playing boxers against the Springboks to try and moer them dizzy?, didn't work, did it?. Won't work this time either my man - we will crush you in the fight and on the scoreboard come RWC time!!. Now p$%@-off!!

  • Neilson - 2011-06-01 21:48

    Another SANZAR Screwup. sanzar is a bunch of IDIOTS. Nick Davidson should be thrown out and banned from any Rugby related panel... and kicked in the crotch.

  • !!Vrystaat!! - 2011-06-02 08:00

    Why dont we all contact them via there website and tell them what we think of them ?

  • Met Uysh! - 2011-06-02 08:25

    The fact that its open to the discretion of the judiciary and not clear cut is the reason why there are in fact so many inconsistencies. That is why there are things like Lower Entry, mid Entry and High Entry sanctions. One officer might see it as shock and justified, while another will see the exact same thing as retaliation and illegal. The fact is, a punch is a punch is a punch, and a minimum sanction of 2 weeks as per the IRB laws applies. Its just once again a cover up for the incompetence of Sanzar to be consistent in the judiciaries!

  • Ching Ching - 2011-06-02 08:25

    This decision is exactly what I expected of them, SA has always had the short end of the stick in these matters. Completely f#cking ridiculous!

  • Vegas - 2011-06-02 08:35

    Shocking!!! Yet another case where a South African player has been unfairly discriminated against. "reaction that was the product of shock rather than retaliatory intent" What are these guys talking about?! No player has "retaliatory intent" in the heat of the moment! That's the whole point of having these hearings. An absolute disgrace!

  • Kevin - 2011-06-02 09:15

    Clearly a different definition of "intent" in NZ. Rhodes guilty ... no doubt. Six weeks - good deterrent. But it is clear from the replay that Piutau"s reaction is not one of shock but rather of intent to extract retribution. His first punch is deliberately aimed, deliberately taken and followed up with two deliberate slaps. The only thing shocking about this is the decision to exonerate him!!

  • Carl Muller - 2011-06-02 10:12

    Hy moes hom ordentlik gemoer het. Dit was baie gevaarlik.......

  • Eugene.Ackerman - 2011-06-02 12:57

    The rules state that a player may not, under any circumstance retaliate. The law is to be enforced by the officials of the day (refs and citing officer). If exceptions are made, anarchy will rule. SANZAR CEO Peters is clearly tying to defend a bad decision. A precedent has definitely been set…crucify SA player and let the rest off (this is what has been happening for years. I think that Rhodes’ sanction is definitely warranted however Piutau should have received a similar sanction. There is an adage that goes: The more things change the more they stay the same. Here it is clear that the more they work on being consistent’ the more inconsistent they become. This was an absolutely shocking decision and an even worse justification of this decision. It is clear that they are assuming the SA supporter are either mentally slow or just complacent and will therefore accept this. Mind you, as per usual, the SA representatives on the SANZAR board ARE spineless and will probably allow this to slide. I think it is becoming time for SARU to look at ditching this Super Rugby tournament and start looking at entering the more lucrative Northern Hemisphere competition. After all, the SA revenue is carrying the NZ and AR conferences; there is no money down there…now, now all you AZ & AR supporter. Before you bet your wooly brads on a knot, check how far your national and club structures are in the red…..

  • Rugby Fan - 2011-06-03 15:11

    WOW and the bull s#it just keeps flowing. Watched the vid 5 times now, and yes the lions player is guitly. But stating Piutau reacted out of shock does not justify him getting off scott free. He cleary intended to harm the lions player by hitting him. That is intent in it's purest form. Piutau ( as a rugby player) is use to a high level of physical contact so if he had the nerve of a jack rabbit he would never have made it to this level. We are getting scre*d here people.......................

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