Ouch! Swinton cops four-week ban for Bledisloe red card

International
by Christy Doran

Hard-hitting Wallabies back-rower Lachie Swinton will miss the rest of the Tri Nations after copping a four-week ban for his high shot on All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock during Saturday's 24-22 Bledisloe Cup win in Brisbane.

Swinton was red carded in the 35th minute for his front-on shot on Whitelock.

It was the second red card shown by Australian referee Nic Berry in what was a dramatic and controversial first-half at Suncorp Stadium, which saw him earlier send All Blacks prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi for a similar shot on Wallabies winger Tom Wright.  The incidents divided the rugby community, with former Wallabies back-rower Steve Hoiles believing neither tackle warranted a send off.

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The SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee, however, upheld the red card under Law 9.13, which deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks. World Rugby has clamped down in recent years on acts of foul play and has come down hard on defenders who don't lower their body height in the tackle.

But Swinton's guilty plea saw his suspension be reduced from six to four weeks, which will see him sidelined until early February given the season is almost at a close.

“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from his legal representative, Maryjane Crabtree, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the Red Card under Law 9.13,” Adam Casselden SC said.

“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level.

“However, taking into account mitigating factors including the fact the Player has pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to four weeks. The Player was not entitled to a full 50% reduction due to the presence of two prior offences on his record.

“The player is therefore suspended for 4 weeks, up to and including Saturday 6 February 2021.”

Tu'ungafasi faces the SANZAAR judicial committee on Tuesday night after also being given a red card in the two-point loss.

Swinton became the first Wallaby to be sent off on debut.

Even still, his coach Dave Rennie spoke glowingly of the "edge" that Swinton gave the Wallabies during his 34 minute cameo.

“I thought Lachie made a big statement in the 30-odd minutes that he was on the field,” Rennie said, when asked for his assessment on the Wallabies’ three debutants.

“Everything that we asked of him bringing a bit of edge; what we know about tackle, around clean, around work-rate, he was massive.

“He’s pretty disappointed (with the red), but he made a real announcement on the international stage.”

Pundit Rod Kafer agreed: “I’ll tell you what Clarkie (Greg Clark), I’d turn up and watch that first 34 minutes again to see Lachie Swinton rip in. He’s had a great 34 minutes, well played. He got one tackle wrong and will get the red card and sit the rest of the game out, but gee whiz he’s rolled the sleeves up and he’s caused some angst amongst the All Blacks.”

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