Whatever sanction is handed to Andrew Hore for his cheap shot
on Bradley Davies, a fundamental flaw in the International
Rugby Board's regulations means the All Blacks hooker will
get a three-match discount on his ban.
One of the IRB's "core principles" is that each match is
regarded as equal - whether that's a test in front of 80,000
at Twickenham or a run-around with Invercargill Marist in
front of a windswept two men and a dog at Sandy Point Domain.
If we assume Hore is given more than a one-week ban for his
hit on the Wales lock at Cardiff, which is extremely likely
(a top-end ban for striking with the arm is eight weeks), he
will miss Sunday morning's test against England, with his
suspension continuing into Super rugby next year with the
The problem for those who don't see a place in the game for
foul play is that the Highlanders have scheduled three
pre-season matches for 2013 and they will count, despite the
fact Hore wouldn't have played in any of them.
In this era of almost continuous rugby, it is rare for an All
Black to play a pre-season match for his Super rugby
franchise, which is understandable, but the automatic wiping
of three weeks from Hore's suspension isn't as easy to get to
Hore isn't the first to benefit from this unusual - by
international sporting standards - policy. When Springbok
prop Dean Greyling smashed Richie McCaw in the face with his
forearm in a test in Dunedin this year he was given only a
two-week ban - effectively a slap on the wrist - but what
made it worse was that Greyling missed only one test. South
Africa had the following week off, but Greyling's Currie Cup
club, the Blue Bulls, didn't, so he was not able to play for
them, even though he wouldn't have been available anyway.
It's time, then, for the IRB to get in the real world and
take a leaf out of soccer's book. Under the regulations of
Fifa, soccer's global body, if you commit a crime in a
Champions League match, that's where you do the time.
Similarly, a ban handed down for an offence in a Premier
League match is served in that competition. A recent example
in New Zealand was All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss
effectively missing the World Cup in South Africa two years
ago after his four-match ban for abusing a match official in
a World Cup qualifier against Fiji in 2008.
Rugby has been let down by too many inconsistent rulings on
foul play this year. It's time for an overhaul, and while
they're at it, the IRB would do well to look at a core
principle which doesn't appear to have any relevance in
Steve Hansen, who is resigned to losing one of his most
experienced players for the England test, was appealing for
calm in the Hore storm.
"That is what happens every time we come up here. I think
they think we are thugs or something but we don't play
differently to anyone else," Hansen said. "I think we have
shown plenty of times over the last 12 months that we are a
disciplined side. If you look at the incidents that have
surrounded Richie we have not jumped in and made it a big
"We pride ourselves on playing good rugby and yes we are
physical and we don't take any backward steps - and we don't
expect our opposition to do that either - but we don't go out
there to do things [foul play] intentionally."
A final word on Hore's act - new wide angle footage from the
BBC has provided some context to his moment of madness only
40 seconds into the game at Millennium Stadium.
Hore was chasing a kick and had his progress blocked by
Davies, who looked behind him twice and changed direction
three times in order to block the All Black.
This will be used as mitigation but the fact remains it was
an ugly act and it's likely to be the one enduring memory of
What they're saying
Hore's brutal and cowardly assault ... went unnoticed, a
reminder that the All Blacks can resemble a gang of
smash-and-grab experts sauntering up and down Bond Street
breaking windows and stealing gold watches while the beat
bobbies are concentrating on minor traffic violations.
Richard Williams, The Guardian
New Zealand play lovely rugby but they are not lovely
sportsmen ... It is a charge that follows them through the
ages: the glitter of their skills is countered by their
Eddie Butler, The Observer
A resounding defeat ... featured the worst excesses of the
All Blacks as Hore launched a shocking, cowardly assault on
Bradley Davies - putting him out of the game before he had
even touched the ball.
Mick Collins, Daily Mail