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RugbyDump RugbyDump
Monday Jun 17, 2019

Tongan Thor's massive shot on Christian Lealiifano sparked another debate about force and tackle height

Tongan Thor's massive shot on Christian Lealiifano sparked another debate about force and tackle height

While the Brumbies beat the Reds 40-27 in Canberra, many fans were no doubt holding their breath when key playmaker Christian Lealiifano was left clutching his shoulder after being flattened by Tongan Thor in the first half. The tackle sparked somewhat of a debate.

The Reds grabbed a much-needed second try in the early stages only to have it cancelled out after tighthead prop Taniela Tupou had made a big shot in the build up.

Referee Paul Williams took issue with the height of the tackle, stating: “I’ve got nothing wrong with the timing but you could have tackled the player lower. You’ve gone high, there’s a lot of force, it’s very close to his head, so you’re lucky it’s just a yellow card.”

Not everyone agreed with the assessment. Both Tim Horan and Stephen Hoiles in commentary took issue with the card, as did Samu Kerevi, who told referee Williams that it was ‘shoulder on shoulder’.

“Of course there is going to be big force when you’ve got a guy like Taniela Tupou,” former Reds centre Horan said.

Hoiles agreed, stating that “Force shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

Either way, the call stood and the effect was damaging for the visitors.

As for Lealiifano, he’s recently decided to call his time on his career with the Brumbies. The inspirational cancer survivor has been given an invite to the Wallabies camp for the World Cup, but will then be heading overseas for a stint with the NTT Shining Arcs in Japan.

Thankfully, the tackle was nothing too serious and he’s expected to be fit when the Brumbies host the Sharks in the Super Rugby quarterfinals.

Full match highlights:

credit: extremerugbyhighlights/superrugby/


  •  pickay
    4:39 PM 17/06/2019

    I don't think the ref's reasoning is really holding up. Option to tackle lower?! Unless you tackle somebody around the ankles you always have the option to tackle lower. The question that matters is whether it was a high tackle or not. According to the ref it was just very close to being a high tackle, but because there was a lot of force, it's a yellow card. So the height is basically OK, but you can't tackle hard at that height? Just too blurry an explanation. Seems to me the ref mainly followed his gut feeling that such a hard tackle couldn't be legal.

  •  elvis15
    4:00 PM 17/06/2019

    Just a case of semantics when talking about force. Did he let up, or did he follow through? In this case, he followed through. It was definitely a high shoulder charge, so unless he realized it would be an illegal hit and tried to let up, force definitely does matter.

    •  pickay
      4:43 PM 17/06/2019

      I would agree with you if the ref had ruled it a high tackle, which however he didn't...


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Tongan Thor's massive shot on Christian Lealiifano sparked another debate about force and tackle height | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos