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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

SANZAR, the controlling body for Southern Hemisphere rugby, moved swiftly to defuse the storm that erupted in the wake of Springbok Francois Steyn’s 5-week ban.

A SANZAR appeals committee – chaired by Terry Willis (Australia), who was assisted by Nigel Hampton (New Zealand) and Robert Stelzner (South Africa) – slapped the ban on the Sharks utility back after a hearing earlier this week.

Steyn, who was Red-Carded for his lifting tackle on Aaron Cruden in the Sharks’ 12 / 11 win over the Chiefs on 21 March, was cleared by South African judicial officer Jannie Lubbe at the original hearing on 23 Match. He also expunged Steyn’s Red Card.

However, SANZAR felt strongly about the message sent out by the result of the original hearing and appealed.

That hearing, which took place on Tuesday this week, found Steyn guilty and suspended him up to, and including 3 May.

In reaction to the fall-out to their appeal and subsequent ban of Steyn, SANZAR said they felt Lubbe made a ‘clear error of fact and law’.

The public outcry aimed at SANZAR hinted at ‘inconsistency’ in how SANZAR treat South African players – when compared to their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.

The 2 Sharks players – captain Bismarck du Plessis (4 weeks for kicking an opponent) and Steyn (5 weeks after the SANZAR appeal) – were both handed substantial bans in the wake of the spiteful encounter.

Yet 2 Chiefs players – Liam Messam (guilty of choking an opponent, but not banned) and Hikawera Elliot (1 week ban for dangerously charging into the back of an opponent) – got off with proverbial slaps on the wrist.

However, SANZAR said they are all “very different” cases.

SANZAR also provided a briefing of the reasons behind the decision to appeal and subsequently ban of Steyn.

“Under World Rugby Regulation 17 the tournament organiser has a right of appeal,” a SANZAR spokesman said.

“As a result, SANZAR has this right in its own rules.

“The right of appeal will only rarely be exercised as there is a threshold that must be met. SANZAR cannot appeal simply because it doesn’t like a particular decision or because SANZAR would have imposed a different sanction than the judicial officer had SANZAR been the decision maker hearing the case.

“The onus is on SANZAR to prove that the judicial officer made a CLEAR ERROR OF FACT OR LAW in reaching his decision and therefore the decision was wrong.

“What differentiated this case from others is that the judicial officer ruled that there was no foul play, that the referee had made an incorrect decision in issuing a Red Card and that the Red Card should be expunged from the player’s record.

“In SANZAR’s view, he made CLEAR ERRORS both of FACT AND LAW in making the findings he did and the judicial officer’s decision would cause real doubt as to how these type of tackles should be treated by referees, citing commissioners, judicial officers and ultimately those playing and coaching the game.

“Player safety is paramount. Tip tackles in breach of Law 10.4(j) have a high risk of serious – or even catastrophic – injury and need to be eradicated from the game.

“For this reason, having considered all the evidence, SANZAR reached a view that the original decision by the judicial officer was wrong and SANZAR exercised its right of appeal.

“The appeal committee consisted of 3 highly qualified and very experienced Judicial Personnel (1 from each SANZAR country).”

SANZAR also said the appeal committee’s full written decision will be available in the coming days and this will provide the full rationale for the decision it has reached.



65 Responses to Super Rugby: SANZAR says Lubbe was WRONG

  • 51

    50 @ nortie:
    Good stuff man.
    There was general complete disappointment and I guess to an extent some outrage from fans about that result, but I suppose also a bit of acknowledging the superiority of Ireland at this point in time. There is a lack of leadership in the Scotland team that day with a lot of inexperienced players in among the experienced players whereas the Ireland team was packed with quality players and I think at least half a dozen established leaders. In some quarters there has been dissatisfaction for a while with Scott Johnson who was coach and now is director of rugby or something like that. Results like that one only fuelled the anger of those towards him.
    One thing to remember is that Ireland won a Grand Slam back in 2009 and there were still some players from that team in the one that played and beat Scotland so well to win the 6 Nations this year, that is experience you can’t buy and throw in a superb coach and players of the calibre of Sexton and O’Brien and it is little wonder they did so well. My only cynicism about them was their style of play before that game, in the 4 games leading up to it I think they only scored two or three tries. BUT off the top of my head guys from 2009 Grand Slam that played this year against Scotland were – Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip, Paul O’Connell, Tommy Bowe, Rory Best.

  • 52

    nortie wrote:

    48 @ Bullscot:
    What was the reaction more specifically, from the English afterwards complaining about how they and the Italians capitulated in the final round?

    As a fan of Scotland I was disappointed in the way we capitulated against Ireland even though they are such a good team at the moment. I was also very surprised at how well Wales did/how poorly Italy did in the second half of their match. BUT I think the comments that were made by English player was in poor taste, sour grapes. England had their chances that they blew as well along the way, they could have scored more points than they did against Scotland as an example, so in the end only have themselves to blame.
    By the way I am getting more and more cynical in time so I thought the Wales and Ireland results especially the margins were too good to be true as you saw how the excitement built from Wales being held close in the first half against Italy to then running away with it by I think a record second half score for them, then Ireland breaking some or other records to get an even bigger margin of victory needed for England, that sure kept interest levels up right until the end as it could very easily have petered out with England say only needing to win by 5 or 10 points against France…

  • 53

    @ nortie:
    Hi Norts.I was responding to your statement that
    (Paraphrasing here) that Frans was not the captain,and
    had no right to rebuke the ref.
    So here is the scene.Tribunal teleconference.
    1 from OZ ,1 from NZ and 1 SA,.
    OZ”So chaps,we agree that Steyn was wrong.It is time
    to mete out appropriate punishment.”And he has a bad
    attitude.God preserve our refs from mavericks”
    NZ”Agreed guys,he tip tackled and dissed the ref,Anathema.Our refs are competent.
    What can we get away with.?I suggest 5 weeks.”
    SA.”Hang on guys,I have to live with the the outrage at home,as this punishment does not fit the crime.”What about Liam?.
    Guilty but no sanction”? ??
    The other two in unison”.Of course not,he is the captain.Steyn is a mere player.Only captains may query a refs decision”(News to me).NZ captains are royal game.We 3 are the Holy Trinity.Our decisions are
    cast in concrete.
    SA.shamefaced.’OK guys,5 weeks it is” but what about
    NZ & OZ.What precedent Ha.Ha.
    Question.Is 5 weeks now the accepted norm for punishment of tip tackles?.Is it going to be universally applied.?
    Norts,your logic re Frans being more harshly judged
    than a captain would is absurd.Or should be.
    You are keeping me awake.Goodnight pal.

  • 54

    @ ryecatcher:
    No problem, he is allowed to, he complained when Peyper awarded the penalty try as well, so I guess as one of the “4” Shark’s captains he can say what he wants when he wants.
    By the same token, so could all other 29 players on the field.
    How nice will that look if every player on the field has a go at the ref if he sees something he doesn’t like? Or if the ref makes a call he doesn’t agree with?
    They do it in football, so why not in rugby then?

    That’s his prerogative as a player, and your’s as a supporter to agree with and support what he does on the field.

    Other players just shut up and get on with the game and other supporters don’t agree with it when players show clear dissent towards the refs, because we don’t want the game to become like soccer and it has always been a case of the ref makes the call, the captain queries.

    When Jannie last year had a go at Peyper, a lot was said, not many agreed that he was right in doing so, so why is Steyn right when he does it?

  • 55

    53 @ ryecatcher:
    Re Messam’s choke….the simple truth of the matter is that there is no current sanction in the IRB law book dealing with grabbing a player and choking him….tackle around the throat has a sanction, spear tackle has a sanction, those are automatic cards and clear cut offenses.

    It’s not NZ, Aus or SA…’s international, so until the IRB, or World Rugby look at that law, it can’t be compared

  • 56

    ryecatcher wrote:

    @ nortie:

    You are keeping me awake.Goodnight pal.

    I’m also struggling to sleep, but not due to Frans and his travails 😆

    Hopefully catch a few winks before the Stormers get their butts kicked in a while

  • 57

    Well now the precedent has been set.

    5 weeks for a tip tackle regardless of whether another player was involved.

    And removing a player from a ruck by his neck is absolutely fine.

    Glad that’s cleared up.

  • 58

    Tassies wrote:

    Does he deserve fair treatment? Damn right. Under the right management he can be a world beater. I, and many others, have no doubt about that. SA need to manage him properly is all.

    Tassies wrote:

    Frans is an extreme talent. He is out of control. If you want the resource then you have to manage the resource. I’m simply not seeing that right now. BAD management. POOR outcome.

    Tassies wrote:

    We actually don’t want to lose Fransie’s talent based on a lack of understanding of how to nurture same. It doesn’t come around every day and when it does, use it. I hate to use the word but……..genius is a rarity. Don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.

    Tassies wrote:

    Frans has done some truly incredible things in his short life. As they say: “Form is temporary. Class is permanent”.


    Hiya, Tassies

    Hope you are enjoying your travels & stopovers along South Africa’s beautiful coastline. Drive safely & enjoy!

    You seem like a pleasant, level-headed, fair-minded person.
    Since, if something is repeated often enough it sometimes gains momentum, ‘unproven veracity’ & eventual broad, uncritical acceptance as ‘fact’, I’m sure you can & will be able to justify your above statements:

    1. Who has not treated Frans fairly, & in which respect(s)?
    2. Who is managing Frans poorly, & in which respect(s)?
    3. Into his 9th year of top tier rugby do you seriously believe that Frans still requires & deserves nurturing? Shouldn’t he at this stage of his career rather be a shining example/leader (like e.g. Jean de Villiers or Warren Whiteley) and assume a mentoring role within the Sharks and the Bokke? Shouldn’t he be the one nurturing young talent in the ranks, rather than still requiring nurturing? Are you suggesting that his conduct is indicative of emotional immaturity & that he therefore needs special treatment?
    4. Who is ‘looking the genius, gift-horse in the mouth’, & in which respect(s)?
    5. Which management or manager (as opposed to the professional rugby player, Frans) is responsible for Frans’ poor conditioning in 2013 when he looked more like a prop than a centre? And in which respect(s)?
    6. Which management or manager (as opposed to the professional rugby player, Frans) is responsible for Frans walking out on the Bokke on the brink of a Test, thereby leaving his team mates, the team, the jersey & his country in the lurch?
    7. Which management or manager (as opposed to the professional rugby player, Frans) is responsible for his infringement of rugby laws that led to his yellow & red cards & subsequent 4 game suspension this season?
    8. Is the conduct of Frans really in accordance with the ethos of rugby? Is he showing due consideration/respect to the match officials, to (the physical well-being of) his opponents, to the fans (both supporters & non-supporters), to his team mates, to MANAGEMENT/coaches, to his jersey (& thus all those that went before him), to his team/sponsors that pay top dollar for his services (but have to accept his way below par form for some years now)? Is his conduct not that of a person that considers himself bigger than the game?
    9. To paraphrase, you call Frans an out of control (rugby) genius who finds himself in a bad space. You may or may not be right.
    Can inner compulsion be controlled, altered, ‘managed’? Have you considered historical precedent that the flip side of true genius is sometimes the inexplicable curse & fate of tragically early self destruction 🙁 ?

  • 59

    gunther wrote:

    Well now the precedent has been set.

    5 weeks for a tip tackle regardless of whether another player was involved.

    And removing a player from a ruck by his neck is absolutely fine.

    Glad that’s cleared up.

    Come now Gunther.
    In the rugby sentencing, as well as regular court sentencing, a first offender generally won’t be punished as harsh as a repeat offender.
    Also, mitigating factors such as showing remorse for the offense/crime also play a part in punishment.

    Those are two factors that might have contributed to the 4 weeks, but are also two factors that only Frans himself could have prevented.

    We see players being choked regularly, usually it’s when one team is mauling. Refs usually would shout and warn the person grabbing the opponent around his neck to leave the opponent…..only in extreme cases, when no heed is given, will a penalty be given. I think Rhodes once copped a yellow for choking Bissie in a CC game, but that isn’t a par for course reaction at this stage for that offence.

    A spear tackle, on the other hand, is usually followed by a card straight away.

    Who knows, if Messam’s choke didn’t coincide with Bissie’s kick, he might have been sent off at that stage?

    Initially, when the ref called for the big screen, that was the first I saw the choke and I thought that was the reason for the replay. I was convinced the Chiefs would be down to 13, but only then I saw they were focussing on the kick to the head.

    Maybe it was just bad timing for his poor judgement to kick the guy?

  • 60

    58 @ Angostura:
    Good questions.

  • 61

    5 weeks does seem a little harsh.

    I think the kick to the head was the more malicious of the two Sharkie indiscretions. And that was only deemed a 4 week offence.

    Maybe 1 or 2 weeks may have been more fitting.

  • 62

    @ nortie:

    Stop being such an apologist.

    Even a rabid kiwi like Caner thinks it’s harsh.

    To grab a player by his neck and try and remove h from a ruck using his neck is simply a choke and is arguable just as dangerous.

    Had it been Cheslin Kolbe bending dragged around by the neck your legs would need drying right now .

  • 63

    @ gunther:
    The only way all parties will be happy is if they hand out a certain penalty for a certain offense.
    No grey areas, if you are found guilty of a spear tackle, it’s 2 weeks.
    If you punch, 4 weeks, or whatever is the set down sanction.

    Then everybody knows how long the ban will be if a player is found guilty after an offence

  • 64

    @ nortie:

    Indeed however 15 years on it hasn’t happened I wonder why lol!

  • 65

    64 @ gunther:
    Don’t hold your breathe….after another 15 years we will still be having a go at each other 😆


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