With suspensions announced for star players Antoine DuPont and Pieter-Steph du Toit, it comes at the wrong time for World Rugby.
The last fully contested weekend of the Autumn Nations Series was bereft of two superstars that are both former recipients of World Rugby men’s Player of the Year. It is bad timing, especially for DuPont, who was nominated for the second year in succession – not the best example that the governing body might want to be celebrated.
The last two World Rugby player of the year winners, Antoine Dupont 🇫🇷 (2021) and Pieter-Steph du Toit 🇿🇦 (2019), getting sent off in the same game is crazy stuff. What are the odds?#FRAvRSA
— Just Doc 🏉🎯 (@Doc_Torio) November 13, 2022
While the endeavours of DuPont and Pieter-Steph du Toit from the beginning of 2022 cannot be amended for a single incident(s) last weekend, the appearance of any doubt over their representation of the values of the game has shaded both men’s performances. It is not exactly the greatest timing – in regards to them each not being available for selection – although the acts for which they have been punished must be identified, for the good of the laws of the sport.
Straight red card for Antoine Dupont 🟥
No arguments there. Kolbe lucky to have avoided serious, serious injury pic.twitter.com/YHgmFy8KJo
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) November 12, 2022
And even at the expense of claiming a trophy, shown to be the same across rugby union; no matter who you are in World Rugby pecking order. And these two leading figures might better be used as examples that others can learn from (using their public appeal and influence).
Suspensions to Antoine DuPont/Pieter-Steph du Toit for red cards
The official release from the judiciary stated ‘the committee considered and accepted submissions from Du Toit’s representative that the charge be amended to Law 9.11 (players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others including leading with the elbow or forearm).
‘Du Toit denied that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card. However, having reviewed all available evidence and the submissions made by the player and his representative prior to and during the hearing, the judicial committee determined that the player had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card, having regard to the process set out within World Rugby’s head contact process.
‘The Disciplinary Committee found the player’s offending to be “reckless” (and not intentional or deliberate), and although there were some external factors identified with respect to the incident, they were not, on the evidence before the judicial committee, of a sufficient degree to justify a reclassification of the offending to below red card’.
One topic of discussion from the two outcomes of the independent judicial committee judgements is how du Toit was handed a three-week sentence for a red card penalty [two weeks if he follows Brodie Retallick’s example] where some supporters believed he was ‘pushed’ into the ruck clearance that saw French center Jonathan Danty with a broken cheekbone.
No matter the argument, too many examples can be seen of a defensive player getting low and directing their clearout towards an offensive player’s head. While a practice, the consequences should be also considered. Even seen in amendments and law variations that act to protect all players. The need is obvious, the motivation might be here to use Pieter-Steph in a player-led program to put an emphasis on cleaning up the breakdown area.
Horrible timing – wants to celebrate Antoine DuPont….but suspended
On the one hand, World Rugby wants to celebrate the exploits of one of its star players. Antoine DuPont should be elevated, since 2022 has been a glorious year for him personally. Club and Country, DuPont was a leading light of the game – marketing is making the most of that status.
The King of @FranceRugby 🇫🇷
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 15, 2022
How should the organization manage the situation now? Suspended, yet still in contention for Player of the Year, the separation between professionalism and the values of the game might see less focus on DuPont this upcoming week. Even if the votes have already been made, it could throw some shade on the winner; if he were to win, or not.
The manner in which Cheslin Kolbe was upended is becoming a far too often occurrence. From February to the current fixtures, the challenge to secure valuable ball has seen too many similar examples. Gratefully, no major injuries have occurred, yet when a Beauden Barrett or Elliot Daly is in the same situation, the effect is magnified. As is here. DuPont needed to be treated like any other might; so the four-week penalty applied, is the same as what Kurt Lee-Arendse received, after he took out Barrett at Mbombela Stadium.
The consistent punishment dealt by the judiciary over the two hemispheres is one positive message. What does it take to ‘coach out’ the tendency to grasp for a player in the air? Something DuPont could set an example of himself – especially since his absence from both France and for his club Toulouse will have him pacing the sidelines for a month. du Toit will also have the time to not only take his Coaching Intervention Program course. And if he truly shows “remorse, contrition, exemplary prior disciplinary record and conduct” that was used in his defence, then he should also speak up about how his and Antoine’s actions and consequences, are something a player can influence by his actions and behaviours on-field.
“Main photo credit”
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