Levani Botia was shown red in the Heineken Cup final and the Fijian captain should have got his marching orders for a similar assault on All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie, writes Mark Keohane.
Levani Botia’s coat hanger attempt to take off Damian McKenzie’s head was described by commentators as the All Black getting smoked. It didn’t warrant replays, slow motion, freeze frame at the point of contact or an intervention from the TMO, a penalty or even a discussion at halftime.
It should have been a red card. It was another example of the shambles rugby calls player safety.
The inconsistency in application of cards, penalties and interpretations when it comes to head high tackles is astounding in the game, but World Rugby keeps on emphasising the narrative about player safety, yet incidents like Botia flying in at McKeznie, no arms wrapped in the tackle and with a clear disregard for the player’s head and safety go unpunished on the field of play.
How did a referee, two assistants and a TMO not actually ask to have a closer look at this incident?
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) July 10, 2021
Now compare Botia’s tackle in Dunedin to his tackle in the Heineken Cup final.
— greub🐑 (@greub1) May 22, 2021
One has been described as brutal. The other was a ‘play on’.
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