High tackle let-off a reflection of match

Mason Emerson
Mason Emerson
It was somehow apt that Hawke’s Bay winger Mason Emerson got off a high tackle charge from last week’s game against Otago.

For it seemed the rule book went out the window in that encounter.

Mason clocked Otago replacement halfback Kurt Hammer late in the game and it seemed for all purposes to be a high shot.

He was cited for a dangerous tackle but was cleared of foul play in a decision released yesterday.

The citing commissioner noted Emerson’s upper arm struck Hammer’s face with force, leaving the player stunned for a brief period before he carried on with play.

Hammer did not go off for a head injury assessment and referee Shuhei Kubo, of Japan, just awarded Otago a penalty.

In his decision released yesterday, judicial officer Chris Morris said he could not be satisfied that Emerson had committed foul play, having pulled his head upward to avoid what would have been a face to face collision.

The decision highlights the new rules around the head-high tackles. Leaving it up to the man in the middle or judiciary afterwards is all well and good, but it is no better than the cut and dried system where any tackle to the head resulted in a heavy sanction.

Perhaps Emerson did not commit foul play, but he was the player who went in high and injured Hammer. It was a poorly executed tackle.

This, though, was a game where there were some strange calls. Kubo did not seem to follow the line of a player being tackled in a ruck when his knee touches the ground. That led to plenty of pile-ups.

Then, twice, Hawke’s Bay got penalties handy to the tryline and indicated it would kick to the corner.

Kubo just ordered the lineout and Hawke’s Bay did not even kick the ball out. It simply strolled to the lineout and threw it in — once resulting in a try.

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